And this is what came to pass. This is the vision, the plan that Puîyus had formulated in the craze of the battle, the type of plan that only the Son of Íngìkhmar the Knight could have formulated. For as the experimental Qlùfhem ship came crashing downwards at light speed and began to push away at the gravitational wells of sea and sky, as the ship began to distintegrate and become nothing but pure energy, and heat came rippling out from it in growing spheres, the strike against the skerries of the ocean was already the power of ten thousand fireworks blasting at the same time. And yet the very crazy part of it all, the part truly perqlúfha, was that Puîyus had envisioned that that in the growing heat of the explosion growing outwards miles and miles high was the very possibility of awakening the Aumàfhruse as only Éfhelìnyec oudl have, and awakening it just at the moment that the lightspeed waves would start to strike the skerries. For now everything was changing and transforming far faster than anyone could have guessed.
The Aumàfhruse struck the skerries. The explosions of lightspeed drew aside the oceans.
The Aumàfhruse started to convert sea and stone and wave and froth into fractals. The Aumàfhruse began to change the lightspeed bubbles, the heat and energy of the exploded vessel, and great growing spheres of light into fractals. And the Aumàfhruse began to convert the labyrinth and the ruins of the Xakhpàlqe buried within the exposed seas.
For a few moments everything was blinding light, and as Éfhelìnye spun around and around in the growing light, she was completely without weight or solidity or form, as far as she was able to discern. She was even assuming that she was spinning around and around in the growing fractals, although she knew that it could all be an illusions, perhaps she was completely still and the force of the explosions and the growing emergent fractals was spinning all around her and rearranging the worlds, there was no possible way she could guess.
Fractal skerries growing.
The skerries, she could see, had filled up miles upon miles of the shoreline and pierced through the waves, they were a long and strangling living boneyard where the Xakhpàlqu had done their experimentation long ago before they had come to reclaim what had been theirs, but the skerries had been right in the very heart of the Aûm arts, and so the fractals that were growing upwards and consuming hundreds of hexagonal miles of ocean and shore were mostly formed of bone and jagged edge and coral rock springing upwards and curling up around itself and consuming the sands and ground. And the billions of kùyojo baths of salt water were also being converted in the waves upon waves of the growing fractals, some of the grasping coralline fractals growing upwards were also fashioned out of salt and water, they were growing upwards and curving around each other they were expanding, the fractals were grasping and snarling arborescence, they were snapping about, some of the fractals looked a little like bushes wriggling about each others, while others were a series of blossoming spheres, massive bulbous spheres at the buttom growing outwards and growing little pockets and cwms popping witin it. Some of the fractals were more akin to endless series of bubbles spinning upwards, in long strings, larger bubbles trapped inside curves made up of smaller ones, and from a distance it was impossible to gaze the size of bubble and wave and tree or any other rondure unto which the fractals could be likened, it was all growing and and sparkling and filling up several miles of what had once been sky and sea and earth and shore, all of it eminating from where Princess Éfhelìnye had opened up the snare of her Father’s nightmare.
Fractal skerry labyrinth growing.
Nihilōminus, though, what was both simultaneously most fascinating about the growing explosions and light convections and their metamorphósis was that, as Puîyus had hoped, the Aumàfhruse would awaken right above the skerries and the labyrinth and that the labyrinth would grow in geometric blossoming sprawls. And thus it came to be. At this point Princess Éfhelìnye was spinning around faster and faster, or at least so she assumed, but she was realizing just how tiny she was in comparison to the fractal maze spinning up and around her, the maze translating itself out of the coral and the heat of the crashing ship, the maze growing upwards in massive tower twisting upwards through what had once been wave, long and growing bridges crashing upwards upon the shore, fractals drifting upwards in eldritch undulations and bending upwards, the maze was growing in such rapid succession that no sooner had one part of it formed then several more continents of maze came crashing upwards right through it, no sooner had some towers arisen and came scintillating upwards then some larger towers came mounting upwards right beneath them crawling outwards as serpents, spindly walls of the maze folding down about itself and revealing huge domes all of light congealing about and becoming even more complicated mazes licking about itself and almost laughing with the energy of its growth and light.
Princess Éfhelìnye was not entirely sure whether she was inside the labyrinth or floating above it or somehow orbiting around the great forest of towers springing up through it, perhaps she was in all of those places, and like in a dream was able to experience several different views at the same time, or perhaps as the skerries were growing upwards and flexing about each other and forming themselves out of the foam and water and light, that many miles of the maze were become transparent glass all about her, and she was able to see outwards throughout the reaches and spans. In her fluttering and swaying and in the shining of the coral she almost felt as if she were floating somewhere above the shores of the Forbidden Gardens, and the golden sands were flowing outwards about her, and seas all of dragon fire were circling all about the islands. The way she bobbed was even a little serpentile flowing, she felt as if she were rising and falling from the waters, she felt as if she were drifting down from the sides of the Dragon wings and become part of their flight and the scars of the waves.
– You do not understand the full story – Prince Kherènxhuqhe was saying. – Dearest Empress Khnoqwísi had a plan, there was a song that she started, and the Dragons were the chorus, but she died before she could finish the song and none of us know the ending. Khnoqwísi had a plan, but everything went terribly wrong, and none of us know how to end her story. –
Dragons in the mazes
Puey Puey Puey Puey?
Éfhelìnye was spinning around and around. A violet dreamcloak was flapping about her, she saw the shadow of blue and black turnic, of a golden torq, kilt and trouser, of wooden shoon glistening darkness visible. Éfhelìnye reached out her hands. Help me! Hold me! Grasp me! The Maze.
Puey, I wish we still had my Father’s mandala with us. We would never grow lost in the mazes flowing out about us. We could travel outwards and find cities and worlds within the maze, it could stretch out beyond the sunset, the walls of the maze formed out of light and golden shadow. We could build a boat and sail down through the rivers of smoke, we would bob from side to side, you could take up some branches to use as bone oars, and all sorts of wonders we could discover along the way. The walls are formed of slots and footprints, the floor all of mandala and rippling energy, the skies crackling with towers swaying from side to side and reaching out unto each other.
They remind me a little of the necropleis that lie scattered and splintered throughout the holy fields of Jaràqtu, ancient and dusty cities long ago abandoned by the living, the only cities in your homerealm of plantation and stead, and you and your Sisters used to take me exploring through some of the safer and less dusty of the cities, and your Sisters came running upwards, Fhermáta was holding a basket for a picnic, and Siêthiyal was bringing toys with her, and Akhlísa was running around and collecting flowers and singing to herself, and you took me by the hand and lead me into these silent and dusky troves.
The Clock Labyrinth
Tick tock tick tock tick
Éfhelìnye was spinning around, she was floating in the air and all around her the energy and light and matter and time of earth and sea and sky and coral and ship were beginning to revolve around her. She was a butterfly dangling upon a long cord and held upright, and all of reality was crawling upwards and blossoming. And this is what she saw:
Tick tock tick tock tick
Dreamlands of fractal skerries were constructing themselves into wheels of the most intricate design, the wheels were tipped with jewels that were forming themselves out of the growing blossomfg of energy, and the jewels were becoming cogs spinning upards and hooking against each other. Continents of skerry were breaking apart and becoming ringing chords and bits of escapement sliding into place. The skerries were flexing like waves, for the salt and water was all made into energy and were forming themselves into billions of springs flowing upwards and forming tower after tower higher and higher. The earth of the sea was crackling apart and arising in orbit around Princess Éfhelìnye were becoming sundial after sundial. Éfhelìnye’s turn within the great emergence was slow and majestic so she could view it as billions of tonnes of coral and earth and shell and bone were changing themselves not just into fractals but unto the strangest and most intricate machinery that she had e'er seen before, something far more eldritch and ancient than she could e'er have possibly imagined, the earth surged up beneath her, massive wings all of ticking wheels were spreading outwards all about her, most of the matter was resolving itself into strange and sliding patterns of pulleys sliding upwards and wrapping themselves around columns and large and puffing coils. All of the matter of the sunken vessels of the Xakhpàlqe and their laboratories and selcouth instrumentation within were changing, were spreading upwards miles upon miles upon miles, so that Éfhelìnye was caught up in the very center of an expanding shell of nothing of billions of pieces of fractal clockwork coiling about itself and spreading outwards further and further still, so that the edge of the machinery was already crawling into the shore and sand, and lone towers of ticking wheels were thirling upwards and scraping against the eclipse of the moons, and shelves all of crystal were arising and sliding at strange patterns, thousands upon thousands of floating walls all of wheels and hexagons were spreading upwards about her and ticking together in flexing fractalescent patterns, and she was the one in the center twirling about, she was the mainspring, the very heart of all of the machinery.
Éfhelìnye: Why are you here?
Kherènxhuqhe: I am here because you want me to be here.
Éfhelìnye: I hate you.
Kherènxhuqhe: Then will me away. Go on. If you are Khnoqwísi’s Daughter you can. Do it. Ah, but you will not.
Éfhelìnye: You fought my beloved. I promise, you will be destroyed, by his hand or someone else’s, but I shall see your death.
Kherènxhuqhe: How droll. Protective of your sweetheart to the end, overprotective even. So, I think I know why you can’t release you.
Éfhelìnye: I cannot possibly imagine anything gabout you that interests me. I will have Puey cut out your heart and eat it. Your glistening scales I shall have made into a wedding garment for him to wear.
Kherènxhuqhe: Lwa lwa lwa! The reason you can’t let me go is indicative of the giant fractal clock forming all around you. I assume you’ve noticed how it grows about you in massive geometric whirls.
Éfhelìnye: Are you present or just a voice? Either way, I’m sure that Puey can slay you.
Kherènxhuqhe: One must of course be cautious not to find patterns in chaos.
Éfhelìnye: Yes, the fallacy of apophenia, of course. The fractal clock though is highly ordered and not random at all, I think that is the actual property of the Aumàfhruse, it takes my Father’s nightmares and makes them into hyper-order.
Kherènxhuqhe: You’ve seen it once, in the great bomb that Puîyus awoke in the fleet above Jaràqtu. He played a little song for it, and the heavens cracked open.
Éfhelìnye: It was necessary to save his people.
Kherènxhuqhe: Of course, for the Elders of Jaràqtu would rather destroy their own fields and scorch their heavens and send their Sons off to death rather than live and surrender. It is chanted that the Spear-Jaràqtuns love their nation more than their own children.
Éfhelìnye: You exaggerate. I know that honored Íngìkhmar loves his children. But no matter, I should not even be listening to you.
Kherènxhuqhe: You can banish me at any time, remember? Now when the bomb lit up the welkin of Jaràqtu, did not the living ships as they broke apart become like ice and crystals, they actually became more complicated even as they broke apart? Now the Aumàfhruse that you’ve released here was far smaller, but look what it does to the coral and living ships and maze, look at how the labyrinth arises all about you in its own strange machinery.
Éfhelìnye: It is very beautiful, one cannot argue that.
Kherènxhuqhe: Beauty and truth are akin, are they not, as the Prophet taught.
Éfhelìnye: The Clock Labyrinth is all about soês hyles and fhaêkh the smallest bits of story, the wheels turning are words, and the gears are an attempt to break down the words unto their smallest remnants of meaning, the machine breaks down dance and song, it excises the meaning, it ensorcels the lexemes.
Kherènxhuqhe: Is it doomed to fail, can language truly be broken down?
Éfhelìnye: The clock fractal labyrinth must serve many functions, but of analyzing meaning it may well fail, language and dance and music are all dependent upon shared memories and dreams, there is something deeper among them than mere mathematical systems. I remember when I was younger and dwelling within the Forbidden Gardens Khwònojhe and Great-Uncle Táto was teaching me geometry and mathmatics, and as we were investigating mathematical systems it occurred to me that all of these systems were depended upon axioms which were unprovable in that context. If one did not accept the existence of point and line and plain, indefinable though they may be, than all of geometry collapses, and the same for the existence of integers pèkurn fhakùmpa, and the truth of shapes and arithmetic itself, one can not mathematically argue them to be correct, one must accept them to be true in order for mathmatics to have meaning.
Kherènxhuqhe: Dragons are the mathematics of an Emperor.
Éfhelìnye: Language is a little akin to that, in some way we must accept Word as an unprovable axiom, and that we can never really get smaller and deeper into it, it is true and from it all the rest of language must spring. Words are not quite like elements whence all things spring, but can be elemental but also a combination of many things. They lie in the seas of complex and simple, and the machine can no more break apart the sea than the language.
Kherènxhuqhe: But you did break apart the sea, or Puîyos did when he planned to slam the disintergrating vessel at lightspeed against the coming waters, and the waves arose miles tall and parted around you all.
Éfhelìnye: Language is ontology, and inherent within it is some degree of arbitrariness in terms of sound and construction and semantic primes. I think this arbitrariness though serves a good purpose, it elevates language above the realm of science and mathmatics, it makes it the prime ingredient of Apálo the Great Music of Creation, it makes language about balance and æsthetics and art, it is elegance and universality, but it is also more than that, it is myth given form.
Tick tock tick tock tick
Princess Éfhelìnye felt herself arising through the beams of energy produced by the clockwork fractals. She was no longer able fully to see the extent of the fractal labyrinth, for the machinery and cogs were grown far more solidic, and the pellucid waves of energy unleashed by the evanescent experimental ship were congealent all together and become the rising towers of this complex. As she spun upwards the inner coils of the machinery became a blur, the wheels were moving about her in arrays like vast and slow majestic planets, the maze reaching upwards out from the very depths of what had once been see and thrawing upwards into banners and swirls and brushing against some of the dust clouds breathed right off from the surface of the Moons. Huge whispering mountains of arising machinery were swaying upwards about her and becoming part of the blossoming fractalry, everything was drawing together, huge spinnent springs falling into place, contents surging upwards and torquations all of outer regions of clockwork hooking together and becoming the faces and hands of the most intricate of clocks she had e'er seen, and as she surged upwards in sparkling ascension and looked around, she wondered where in this growing wonder Puîyus could be, and her Cousin and the Pirates and little Aîya who had tagged along with her.
Kherènxhuqhe: It was a little like this, at the beginning of days when we Dragons were singing the theme of the Immortals, we were arising o'er the waves of the garsecg o'er Piifharúkekh the Ocean of Music and one by one the realities were blossoming in the froth and energy and arising, and opening upwards they became dimensions. Back then of course the billion, billion dimensions had no name yet, Mortals were not come, but these would be the worlds that man would clepe Khniîqhekh and Qamélo and Jaràqtu and all the rest. And the worlds were fruit hanging upon the boughs of Sànum, the first tree. You’ve heard legends of Sànum have you not?
Éfhelìnye: Yes, it was the Tree that was, it bound together all the worlds er that it died.
Kherènxhuqhe: Have you seen it before?
Éfhelìnye: Behind my Father’s throne and in the staff held in his hand.
Kherènxhuqhe: And priests also?
Éfhelìnye: We call them sylvan priests, for the origin of that order began beneath the Tree.
Kherènxhuqhe: What do mortals call Sànum, the holy Tree?
Éfhelìnye: The Tree of Light.
Kherènxhuqhe: And also?
Éfhelìnye: The Dragon Tree.
Kherènxhuqhe: Interesting. Interesting indeed.
Tick tock tick tock tick
Éfhelìnye was floating upwards several leagues above where the ocean had been, she was almost to the summit of the towers of the fractal maze, and by now all of the billion, billion coils of clockwork were drawn together and springing into life, crystalline dreamlands flowing outwards, and she could see in the spans and reaches that the labyrinth was spreading outwards as a glowing jewel flowing upwards beneath the darkness of the eclipse and shimmering silvern all the while.
Tick tock tick tock tick.
Kherènxhuqhe: Your Mother never did care for clockwork.
Kherènxhuqhe: No, not at all. She preferred growing things, organic and turning. I don’t think she had any particular opinion against clockweyth, she certainly was not sending her arborescent priests outwards with orders to smash and destroy any contraband smuggled out from the red moons of Khnìntha, but she tended to delight in the vine and tree and flower. Maybe she was just completely uninterested in the wheel. It might have had something to do with her being reared by Grandfather Thiêfhilos in the cot beside the forest, it must have been a simplely homely life, all of wood and cloth and stone, with just a few disconnected wheels for wagon. In fact there might not have been a single nAds yūr in the entire house, the first clock she might have seen might well have been a clock in the Ice Palace where your Father the Crown Prince at the time dwelt.
Éfhelìnye: I’ve never imagined my Mother as particularly mechanical.
Kherènxhuqhe: Oh by Qhalúxha, you get your machine cunning from your Father. Now your Father, I’m sure you’ve heard the tale of the three Brothers, Kàrijoi and Khwìnton and Khwòjhye the Princes, and how Khwòjhye fell in love with battle and glory and Khwìnton fell in love with clockwork, and Kàrijoi fell in love with Princess Khnoqwísi. Prince Khwòjhye died in the first war against Tsànyun, he is a Martyr to the Aristocratic Warrior classes. Prince Khwìnton’s story you know, he converted Khnìntha into machinery and builded a daughter for himself, Ixhúja the mechanical maiden. And yet in a way Kàrijoi was between the two, he was brave in battle like Khwòjhye, but he was not the greatest of warriors, and he was interested in some machinery, but he was not consumed by it as Khwìnton was. Your Father used to make toys for all of the good children in the worlds, and his toys he filled with the most marvelous of clockwork to bring them to life, his toy soldiers could march, his trains sprang around upon the crystalline rails, his dolls could watch, and even his marionettes could wink and dance. I think it was because of this that your Mother tolerated clockwork, because your Father set his hand to making toys for the little ones. I see much of your Father’s craft in you.
Éfhelìnye: I don’t want to be like him.
Kherènxhuqhe: You are the most like him of all creatures of the worlds. This is your curse and your strength and hope. Puîyus has dispassionate piety for your Father, but he has love for you, both you and the Emperor inspire devotion in him. Do not forget that.
Éfhelìnye: Why are you telling me thins?
Kherènxhuqhe: It is you who refuse to release me. I tell you what you wish to hear. And you cannot let me go, because you know that I knew your Mother, and not even Grandfather Thiêfhilos can tell you all about her.
Éfhelìnye: The fractal maze is almost complete. What shall happen when I reach the summit.
Kherènxhuqhe: You will release me. Reality will come rushing back in.
Éfhelìnye: Will I find Puey?
Kherènxhuqhe: You will, and you will flee for your lives. When this bubble of causation bursts, know that I and my brethren will be swooping downwards for to destroy you.
Éfhelìnye: It looks like the lunar eclipse is ending. Light blinks again.
Kherènxhuqhe: Are you ready, Khnoqwísi’s Daughter?
Éfhelìnye: I am.
Kherènxhuqhe: Close your eyen. When you open them again, you will find yourself upon the highest of towers.
Princess Éfhelìnye blinked her eyen.
And Éfhelìnye, Khnoqwísi’s only child, opened her eyen unto a world completely transformed. She was lying upon her side upon a vast and cold dome of glass, and it was pulsating from all of the rhythms of unwinding springs and ticking wheels drawing downwards for many miles of metal and coral. She was dimly aware of actually having a solidic body again, for she could feel her face and the cold blasts of ocean wind, she was aware of being on her side, and the feel of her toes coiling in her red ballet slippers, and slight pain lay in both of her wrists, the kùmpi stigmata that had arisen from the coming of the ferocious Moon Dragons parthenóphagoi. She was breathing in heavily and could taste some of her own blood in her mouth, she thought that the violence of her awakening must have caused her to bite her own tounge. She rolled out upon the back and was aware of thousands of glassen towers arising from the sea, towers all of fractal and clockwork and spinning about each other to form quite a marvelous labyrinth, and slowly her mind was reminding her that none of this had existed before but been engendered by the plan that Puîyus had implemented with the Aumàfhruse. She sate up and touched her forehead, some blood was trickling down there also, she must have struck her head against something in the fountains of heat and light flowing upwards from the lungs of the labyrinth. She tried to get back to her feet but just fell down a little, and had to crawl on her hands and knees and almost teach herself how to walk. Thrice she stumbled, and once she just lay exhausted upon her belly and looking down chanced to espy the ring upon her left hand, the moon ring which long ago Grandfather Pátifhar had placed on her hand for safekeeping, for he had told her that the ring had been her Mother’s, and that she must protect it from her Father. She noticed that glowing within the syàtha, the star sapphires of it that moons were arising and turning about, and yet other imagines were appearing and flapping their wings uⁿirOwE safirains matlalxihuitl, the shadows of Dragons arising out of the seas, their wings bright and splendiferous rainbows, and all of the heavens arching above them all. Even as she gaze did into the ring, though, the images faded away, and the ring became a sheen of pink and red. She kissed the ring a few times, and slowly drew herself up to her feet and gazed outwards into a world completely transformed.
I wish you were here to tell me what to do, Mamà, Éfhelìnye was thinking unto herself. I do not trust at all what the Dragon was telling me, perhaps there was some truth to their talk of a plan gone wrong, and clockwork and all the rest, but I not trust those who harm the innocent or my Puey at all. She swayed from side to side, here from the highest ticktocking tower of the maze she could witness the miles upon miles of sprawling and curving fractalizing labyrinth, and now that the Moons were parting from their symphonic conjunction, she could see all the better not just the extent of the labyrinth but that what Puîyus had intended had in fact come to pass, for in the thousand storeys and turning bridges and walls and halls of the labyrinth, several thousand Dragons had found themselves trapped. Many of them were crawling from side to side within the hallways and pounding against the walls and raking them with claw and flame, others of the Dragons found themselves partially trapped, part of their torso inside a wall but their wings and necks were reaching outwards into the air, and their wings were frothing from side to side and casting out ice as the Dragons struggled to escape. Some Dragons were pinned now beneath the waters, for although the crystallization of the labyrinth had consumed much of these seas around the ruins of Syapàkhya, the Oceans were gnomic vast and quotidian inexhaustible, and in wave after wave after tidal bore were flowing back in and slowly beginning to flood some of the lower regions of the fractals, and some Dragons found their heads buried within tonnes of coral and stone, and they were smashing from side to side against the waves and tumbling walls. Already several of the larger Dragons were bursting out of the skerry towers, and were lifting up their heads and crying up to their brethren still within the skies and moons. Éfhelìnye took a few steps backwards, she could see within the coral reaching outwards that already claws and fists were punching outwards, Puîyus had known that the rapid burgeoning of the labyrinth would only trap the Dragons for a little time, but they had hoped it would be all the time they would need. The clockwork was spinning all the faster, and the thousand towers all about the Princess were arising and revealing tides and seasons and worlds within their faces, as all of the labyrinth murmured and calculated time unto itself, and Éfhelìnye ran outwards towards the ledges and spun around and cried out – Puey Puey Puey Puey! Here I am! Where are you? –
Rumbling mechanical and booming came the sound of scraping growling somewhere within the machanics beneath the Princess, she heard the sound of bone and metal tumbling together, and the deep rumble of something not quite like noise but not quite song either, a music that had no melody, an echo arising louder and louder still, and Éfhelìnye ran away from the edges and turning around in the fractal labyrinth cried out all the louder – Puey! I think we should start escaping now! Princesses probably should not get trapped witih dragons and labyrinths, I don’t think that’s a good combination. –
Off in the distance she could hear the waves lapping about some of the coralline turms, crennelations of the waves were shimmering from side to side, and several of the outer walls were breaking apart before the onslaught of water and salt, but no Dragon was tempting to escape at all, rather there came the sound of so many fireworks bursting at once, and slow blue clouds of rippling energy were popping up from the pipes and orbiting around some of the power springs. Éfhelìnye stumbled a little as the energy continued to ripple throughout all of the fractal labyrinth she had formed, and more and more towers were lighting up, heat and light sparkling right out from them. Some shadows flickered above her face, and looking up she saw that several more Dragons were looping downwards from the eclipse of the Moons, and that the last of the heat convections of the light speed crash was washing o'er them all and becoming apart of the scintillation of the heavens.
– Puey! – Éfhelìnye gasped.
Off in the distance a string of cobweb came dancing from one clockwork tower unto the next, and as the line approached her Éfhelìnye could see flowing out from it a ripple of violet and red cloth, a dreamcape spinning outwards, and a sword all of fire was held in one hand. Within a few moments Puîyus came swinging upwards through the fractalizing labyrinth blossoming all about them, and swooping upwards he landed right upon the top of the tower where Princess Éfhelìnye lay, and he bowed before her as several more explosions wracked through the walls and reefs of the maze, and spirals of fire began to flow upwards and join with the spinning of the clockwork.
– Oh Puey! – Éfhelìnye gasped. She ran up to him and seeing that blood was running down his face, gasped and ran her finger upon his brow and cheek and chanted – Oh, you’re hurt! I did not intend for that to happen, oh Puey, are you alright? –
Puîyus nodded, it was but a scratch, and he was still more concerned with her bleeding brow, and the blood that kept forming about her wrists. He took her hands in his and turned them around to examine them, and loosening the bands a little jhkhaû tìpre bandages, and seeing that the blood was not quite heeling, he tied the cloth about her wrists all the tighter.
– Puey? –
– ?? –
– After such a daring plan, after a crash at light speed into a frothing ocean, after awakening an extremely experimental and dangerous alien engine which changed the very fabric of reality about us, after escaping from the Dragons, even if for only a few moments and finding your one true love here in the towering midst of an eldritch fractal coral labyrinth, don’t you think this is the point where the hero knight, the Poet Warrior is supposed to take the Princess into his arms and squeeze her tight and cover her faces with kisses? –
Puîyus tied the bandages about her wrists all the tighter, he knew that they would probably have to hurt a little to force her blood to congeal, but there was nothing else for him to do to deal with her royal anofhyelínge her hæmophilia. He could tell as he tightened the bands, and she winced a little, that it hurt her, but he knew she would refuse to say anything. When he finished with the bands, he still held her hands though, even as the explosions arose about them, and waves of wheel and gear came spinning outwards.
– Puey, are you going to kiss me now? – asked Éfhelìnye. – I’d say that you earned it. –
Puîyus pointed unto some of the growing explosions, and the ticking towers, for it was time for them to go. Éfhelìnye however just drew herself to him all the closer and ran her hands through his silvery blue hair and chanted – Let’s kiss first. –
Puîyus took her hands from his hair, and falling down from his tresses fell seaweed and sea shells and not a few crabs and ocean spiders that were clinging onto him for protection while the oceans were boiling away and being reborn into fractal and wheel, and in the tumbling of eel and guppieling he took her hands and kissed them a few times with lips gentle and perfumed.
– That’s a good beginning kiss – Éfhelìnye chanted as she put her hands around his neck and drew her face right up to his. – And yet I had in mind something more romantic, something fitting a brave Knight of virtue and excellence, swinging upwards through a strange Dragon Sea and rescuing the Maiden who … what are you doing? Puey! I want my kiss! Puey! – Puîyus picked up Éfhelìnye and drawing out his rope spun it through the air and hooked it around the edge of the next clockwork tower, and making sure that the Princess was comfortable he ran through down the length of the tower and sprang up into the air and came spinning high aloft, and Éfhelìnye squeaked – Just remember, my beautiful floppy-haired Puey, that you owe me a kiss, and I’m collecting it. Why, perhaps I shall not give you any warning at all, you may be working in the field or polishing your weapons or tending to an household shrine, and I’ll come up to you and fling mine arms about you and demand payment for the kiss of this day. –
– Mew. –
– Don’t think that I’ll forget, I have quite a keen mind, in terms of philematology, why somethings I think that the only reason I’ve bothered to learn base eleven scientific notation is just so I can tally how many kisses you owe me! –
Puîyus came spinning high into the air and landed upon the turning clockwork horns of the tower, and from this vantage point they could both see the miles upon miles of winding curves that made up curves of the fractal thrice-dimensional, the maze almost looked a little like waves frozen in place, a massive crest arising and dripping down from its side came many smaller waves twisting about in just the same patterns, and yet from other angles the maze looked all like circles within circles repeated in endless khwòlut in mandelbrot sets, and yet all of it was of skerry and twisting mechanics, all of it arising and ticking and calculating unto its own ends. Puîyus looked around and found his next target, and sweeping up Éfhelìnye into his arms came swinging upwards towards the other spirals of the fractal, and spinning downwards all about them the maze was opening up and gasping out with explosions and Dragons popping out of it one by one by one.
Puîyus looked around, beneath him he could feel the movement of horrid music, all around him the Dragons were like flowers crawling out of the fractal. He was wondering just exactly how they were going to escape these fractals, since they had no ship and were wingless apteryξ, and he was realizing that he had not quite thought through the escape part of the plan, when Éfhelìnye flung herself right into his arms so hard that he almost fell down, and before he knew it she was kissing his neck and cheek and gnawing on his ear a little.
– Mew! – Puîyus chanted.
– More kissing! – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– !! –
– I wish you wouldn’t resist me so much. –
– !! –
– We’re completely alone, there’s no reason you should be embarrassed. –
– !! –
– The crabs and fishes don’t count. Anyway, they want us to kiss. –
– … –
Éfhelìnye clammered about Puîyus and almost shoved him down as she looked to the spilling fishes and lobsters and crabs and asked – Don’t you want Puey after such a daring rescue to shower me in epic kisses? –
– ?? – Puîyus gasped as he drew her down from him.
– That is only technically a leading question. – Éfhelìnye picked up a few crabs and smiling at them asked – Don’t you want the hero and the princess to kiss here upon the summit of maze and heaven? –
The crabs nodded and snapped their claws, and the lobsters spun around a bit in a rather arachnid jig, and the guppielings just jumped up in the air and fluttered in the air and flew around Éfhelìnye and their gills were twining a little.
– That means yes, doesn’t it? – Éfhelìnye asked.
– … –
– See, all of nature conspires to bring us together. Now, accept your fate. – Éfhelìnye jumped up right into Puîyus’ arms, and he had no choice but to catch her, and she began kissing his face. – Oh your cheeks are softer than petals, oh my Puey! –
– Mew! –
– Nobody can see us. Pucker up. –
– Mew! –
– I’m not looking behind me. –
– Being right behind you! – screamed Aîya.
– Now kiss me, Puey – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– Abouting to be crashing! – screamed Aîya.
– My Puey! – whispered Éfhelìnye.
– HELP! – screamed Aîya.
– PURR! – cried Ixhúja.
The ensuing crash was an as ineluctable as could be expected. For in the blossoming of the great fractal labyrinth, while Éfhelìnye was caught up in a bit of time and all about her the clockwork was forming itself, while Puîyus came swinging down from side to side in the burgeoning waves of explosions and about the growing towers of mechanics, Princess Ixhúja and Aîya had found themselves blown far away, for they had been in the very heart of the machine, and as the waves of lightspeed contracted about them, they became like tiny leaves blown out before the coming squall. They spun around and around again in the winds, even as the Dragons came bursting downwards and found themselves trapped in the forming walls and wheels, although a few of the Dragons had been able to veer away at the very last moment, and Ixhúja and Aîya crashed against the retreating claws and wings beating around them. Ixhúja however grabbed a few of her clockwork thralls and unwound their wings, and affixed the little dragonflies and locusts unto her shoulders, and grabbing Aîya and holding her tight, was able to sway and bob a little on the collapsing storms rolling around where once the skerry reefs had been, and in the crashing down of the realities Ixhúja and Aîya came spinning around and around, Dragon screams being the only constant in a world all of bursting fractals, and now that the labyrinth was settling down now, the walls and wheels contracting and forming the most marvelous of bone machines, and the winds were breaking apart, Ixhúja could no longer bob like a dragon kite held up by string, and the insects clammered and strained to keep her and Aîya upwards, but down down down they came crashing until they were spinning down towards the spiral towers and were just on the verge of crashing right into Puîyus and Éfhelìnye.
– Purr! – screamed Ixhúja.
– Kiss me! – Éfhelìnye whispered as she kissed Puîyus’ lips. Suddenly all of the worlds were spinning about and tumbling in a mass of sleeves and hair and Traîkhiim feathers and Traîkhiim necks, and Puîyus and Éfhelìnye and Ixhúja rolled about each other about half the length of the tower spiral, and when they finally stopped rolling all three of them found themselves being bit by a small Traîkhiim gnawing on Puîyus’ ankle and Éfhelìnye’s nose and Ixhúja’s wrist.
– Puey? – asked Éfhelìnye, as she yanked Aîya away from her.
– Mew? – asked Puîyus as he slipped away from Ixhúja.
– I’ll have you know that doesn’t count as a proper kiss – Éfhelìnye shoved aside the spinning mechanical dragonflies and locusts dashing up about her. Puîyus staggered upwards and drew Ixhúja upwards, and meeth were descending and opening up their pinpilinpauxa wings. Éfhelìnye shook her hair and out came stumbling Qìfhte and several more Dragonflies, and she chanted – You still owe me a kiss, Puey. In fact now I think you owe me double. –
Ixhúja sate up and seeing Puîyus she sprang upwards and punched him across the face. She was about to take another swing at him, but he caught her wrist and shoved her back and blinked at her a few times.
– Cousin, was there any particular reason why you struck my Puey? – Éfhelìnye asked.
Ixhúja shrugged, and glancing a blinking a few times told them, Because it’s fun, and also because he needs to be punished, he’s always trying to touch and kiss my beloved cousin, someone has to scourge him for that. She yanked herself out of Puîyus grasp and jumping upwards kicked him, but Puîyus was able to swirl away, and picked her up high above his head, and she snarled and spat and kicked against the air, and when she began to slow down a little, the fight dying down, he set her down again. The mechanical insects all came spinning right back into Ixhúja’s belt and crawling about her ears and into her golden tresses, and she adjusted her sleeves and weapons a little, and then turned to Puîyus with bright eyen. Puîyus held up his hands and expected to be punched again, but this time she just grinned and purred in the language of beasts and told him, Crashing through the heavens on the flaming machine was quite fun, especially when all these sgeir turned into an exploding maze. Let’s do it again.
Puîyus tapped his hands together and told her in signs, Perhaps later.
I say let’s do it now!
– Dearest Cousin, we don’t have a ship or any of the dangerous Aumàfhruse emerging with us – Éfhelìnye chanted. – Maybe we should think about escaping. –
Puîyos wasn’t thinking too much about escaping when he was trying to kiss you just a moment ago, Ixhúja told them and stuck out her tounge. Anyway, I am completely uninterested in excuses. Let’s crash again now and make an even more chaotic maze!
– Later, later – chanted Éfhelìnye.
You’re just so silly and timid! Adventure now, adventure always, again and again and again until we die in the glorious honors of battle, and are flame farewelled and join our Ancestors in fight for them for all eternity! So Ixhúja was telling them glances and snarls and shaking her fist several times at both Puîyus and Éfhelìnye.
– Anyone wondering question what happened to the sky pirates? – asked Aîya. – Remembering they the only source of food that we had? –
– ?? – Puîyus wondered, for he could hear the noisome music arising within the towers, and the sound of walls breaking apart and the vast sloughing away of muscles and bone and horns.
Oh must it only be food with you, my little pet? Ixhúja told Aîya in a glance. More to life there is than food, there is the persuit of honor and quests without end. What are you doing Puîyos? Are you ignoring me?
Puîyus put his fingers to his lips for silence, even though Ixhúja’s glances had not been making any noise, but that only enfuriated her all the more, and she began stomping her feet and snarling and hopping about. Éfhelìnye ran up to Ixhúja to start calming her down, but Ixhúja just shoved her eastron cousin aside, and drawing her weapons began to ululate in a voice growing louder.
– Please, Ixhúja, be quiet! – chanted Éfhelìnye.
– May I we yodal also? – asked Aîya.
– No, it sounds terrible – chanted Éfhelìnye.
– Ah ah ah ah ah ah! – ululated Ixhúja.
– Fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa! – yodalled Aîya.
– Ah ah ah ah ah ah! – ulated Ixhúja all the louder.
– Fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa! – yodalled Aîya in three voices.
Éfhelìnye held her hands o'er her ears and gave Puîyus an helpless look. It only took them a few blinks to create this particular fan. At once Éfhelìnye rushed Aîya, and Puîyus pounced upon Ixhúja. Éfhelìnye plucked Aîya up and began stuffing her own feathers and wings into her beak, and just as Aîya was sputtering and coughing, the Princess hugged her tight and soothed her down as she would a nervous dinosaurling. Puîyus was having far more trouble with Ixhúja, for thing she was slippering and kept wriggling away from him, so that he kept having to pluck her up and pin her arms back in an attempt to wrestle her down. Now that Aîya was quieting down, Éfhelìnye thought she could help, and so as Puîyus was holding Ixhúja and keeping her from escaping, Éfhelìnye began clasping her hands o'er Ixhúja’s mouth in an effort to keep her quiet.
– Are you going to be quiet! There are Dragons all around us! – Éfhelìnye hissed.
Ixhúja glaired at her cousin, while Éfhelìnye clasped her hands above her mouth, and gave her a look that meant, I’ll be quietescent only if I feel like it. When Ixhúja bit her cousin’s fingers a few times, Éfhelìnye just clasped her hands o'er her mouth all the harder.
– Are you going to behave! Have you forgotten about the Dragons? –
That’s your own fault, the Dragons weren’t bothering me, they were all beautiful and noble around me, you’re the one to have upset them, Ixhúja’s look told her. Éfhelìnye sighed and began releasing her cousin’s mouth and chanted – Now, when I draw mine hand away you’re going to be quiet, right? –
Éfhelìnye sate back. Ixhúja licked her lips. – AHHHHH! – Ixhúja started ululating.
– Puey, do something? – cried Éfhelìnye.
Puîyus was still holding Ixhúja tighter, and drew out a sùlrui blackjack from his pocket and waved it around.
– No, I don’t think you should knock her unconscious. But we won’t discount the idea completely – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! – Ixhúja coughed a little and gasping for breath cried out – Ah! Ah? Ahhhh … – Ixhúja was noticing that Éfhelìnye was looking around, distracted, and playing now with Aîya’s wings and gazing out unto the monumental fractal towers arising out of the seas unto all sides of them. Ixhúja cleared her throat, now that her cousin was no longer paying any attention to her, and Ixhúja tugged upon Éfhelìnye’s sleeve a few times and ululated – Ah? Ah? … Ah? …. Ah? – But Éfhelìnye was no longer even paying her any attention. Ixhúja twisted her neck around in Puîyus’ grasp and saw that he was stuffing a sùlrui blackjack back into his bauldric, and she offered a few half-hearted ululations untowards him, but even he was losing interest.
– Ah? – Ixhúja asked Aîya, but even the Traîkhiim was yawning with two mouths, while the third mouth chewed upon some bit of seaweed it had managed to find. Ixhúja, noticing that Puîyus was relaxing his grip on her, wriggled about and punched him in the ribs and growled unto him to say, I demand that we crash another ship and create an even vaster and stranger labyrinth than before! Now get you boy arms off of me, you male person of the masculine sex! Stop touching me! You’re just trying to kiss, everyone knows that you can’t resist me, especially not with my golden hair shining like this! Ixhúja flung her aurelian tresses right into Puîyus’ face, and a few bits of kelp splashed down from them, and Aîya fluttered upwards and began gobbling it up. Fine, so you don’t like my ululations, hah! Ixhúja snarled at Puîyus. Just for that, I refuse to become your Concubine as you’ve always secreted wanted but been too shy to ask me. You’ll just have to fathom living a life without me as one of your brides! See how much you like that, Puîyos Son of Íngìkhmar Son of some other old people Son of Khiêro!
Puîyus released Ixhúja and breathed out a sigh of relief, and found it quite easy to imagine a life without having Ixhúja as an extra wife. He drew himself upwards and dusted off some stray foam and shells from his arms and looking outwards listened to the growing music rumbling within the labyrinth, and sometimes he could hear the scraping of great draconiform wings, and the growling of throats as they were breathing out flames, but othertimes it was the very crackling of the labyrinth and the arising bones and coral of it all, and the sound of many shadows arising and piping at once. He spun around, already out of the reforming seas more Dragons were arising, but he had to know what was the sound within the labyrinth, for he hoped that the last part of his rather crazy plan would come to pass. Ixhúja however was blithe to all concerns of actually saving their own lives, but was hopping around and poking Éfhelìnye and then Aîya and then running up to Puîyus and thrusting her first right into his face and purring for to tell him, And another thing, I don’t like it how you compared your incinerating of the ship to my little racing manouever, sure I would destroy a ship if it meant I would win the race, I’d wreck it in flames of glory, but that’s my move, my own manouver, and you can’t … stop trying to make me quiet! Éfha! Éfha! Your sweetheart is running after me! He’s trying to capture me and kiss me like he’s always trying to do! You’d better stop ignoring this problem!
Éfhelìnye looked out and saw that many of the walls of the labyrinth were exploding and long uncoiling serpentine necks were bursting outwards, the gills unfurling, the Dragons slowly arising and breathing out storm flames. – Whatever you say, Ixhúja. Puey, let’s figure out a way to go. –
Puîyus caught Ixhúja, and she just laughed and flung herself into his arms for sport. Puîyus natheless was in no humor for games, and grasping the side of her head pointed her left ear down towards the turning and growling of the great clockwork of the towers, and forced her to listen to the music that was crawling all about them. It was a little like piping, it was a little like a voice formed of bone harmonics and a windpipe, it was something scraping across the ridges of beings with far too many legs. The music of the labyrinth in a way was very beautiful even though very eerie, and for a few moments both Puîyus and Ixhúja experienced an earful of pitches crashing against each other, the sighing of wind as it came through the twining and grasping clockwork, the sound of walls and doors opening, and the sloughing of the Monsters that dwell within the Maze. It was like learning for the first time how language or music functioned, it was as if the machinery of the maze were chopping up sound and reforming it into bits and pieces of most unnatural inflexions, into peculiarities of sound. It was a roaring which was not quite song and not quite language, it was not the pitch accent of Babel by which the various syllables can be described as musical notes, rising or falling or in a neutral sigh, and just as children of their own accord realize the natural patterns of the music of language, and how vocative particles and irrealis suffixes like to arise, and that sliding notes shift depending on the syllable, so it was that Puîyus and Ixhúja realized that in the growing and sighing of this tremendous labyrinth, even as the Dragons were arising and breaking free of the confines, even as the fractals were growing upwards all the more complex, and the skerries were becomg a grand opera, that within the mazes some thousands of the Xhròpfhe Fhàjhati blue unicorns had survived, nekiυmva snarling, and they were pouring outwards through the halls and the changing fractal patterns of this place, and the roar of the unicorns was not an unharmonious blenting as they began to pour outwards and discover new mechanical regions and nations within the maze, windpipes and vocals and harmonies of fractal spreading out in all directions.
Suddenly several of the towers right before the children broke apart and were arising on the backs and wings of massive dragons, and as masonry and tile and metal and coral came crashing downwards, even the debris twisting around in slightly fractalized patterns, the Dragons were turning around, gnashing their fangs and breathing out clouds of light, and in the fires spinning around throughout the skerry mazes, the Dragons were crying out – Fie fie fie! Pah pah pah! We smell the blood of a Starflower! Fie, foh, and fum! Fie, foh, and fum! –
Puîyus drew his nose fife and sticking it into his nostrils breathed out a little tune, his fingers dancing upon the keyholes, but finding that they did not quite have as much time as necessary to implement that last part of the plan, he drew the fifeling away and came bounding outwards and prepared to fight and scheme as events opened up about them. He swooped up Éfhelìnye and Aîya into his arms, and already his rope was spinning out of his grasp and forming little coils and hoops unto itself, and turning to Ixhúja he motioned for her to hold onto him. She gurned at him and drew out a few of her clockwork thralls and slammed them together and hooked some of their limbs and feelers together in an attempt to put together some biomechanical wings unto herself, but the clockwork just sputtered and was not entirely designed to hold children upwards, at least not when children were real and solidic in the Mortal Realms eormengrund, and she growled a little and snapped at the Dragonflies and punched Qìfhte right in his compound eyen a few times, and her ornaments were spinning and wriggling all the while. Dragons were bursting upwards about the children and sniffing their great nostrils knew that they had to be nigh. Puîyus knew they had no time to delay, and Éfhelìnye was a little busy trying to grasp onto Aîya and keep her from bouncing out and wriggling away from them in fright, so Puîyus just came leaping upwards and plucked Ixhúja upwards and tied some of the rope about her as he flung himself high into the air, and although Ixhúja punched and gnawed at him a few times, and when Puîyus just kept ignoring her, she turned and started poking Éfhelìnye, still they made their way through the air, and Puîyus landed upon the side of some fractal towers and flung himself unto the top and looking around found the direction of the shore and the place where the clock maze ended, and yanking out the rope flung it out from him again and began their slow concourse unto the shores.
For by now the Dragons were able to wriggle and punch and breathing out enough flames so as to escape from the vast fractal maze, and the Dragons were turning around and glaring with bright mirror eyen and guessing that if the children had survived the waves of energy unleashed by the light speed and the reality concussions of the aumàfhruse, then they could only be escaping in one direction, out untowards the shoreline. And as the Dragons were twining around, new clouds of energy were spinning up around them, and the onslaught of the Dragons was keeping all of the maze alive, so that it continued to breathe new reams of gear and wheel all about itself, the main light of the Aûm arts was disappating, but still the labyrinth was changing and growing of its own accord. Several hundred Dragons skriking all the while were ripping themselves out of the walls and spinning wheels, and the oceans themselves were leaping upwards and were become fractal and mirror. The land that had been beneath the sea was now surging upwards and breaking apart into floating columns and becoming new pendula to regulate the flow of the wheels, the ground spun about and was becoming the long and coiling outer disques to migrate through this machine, and bursting outwards through all of the intricate clockwork swirls, the Dragons were arising and breathing out their horrific flames.
Puîyus for his part, knew it was a chase, and although he was quite fast and perhaps only Ixhúja could have beaten him on a footrace on land, not even he could hope to escape Dragons let alone to fly windless away from them here in the growing clouds of machinery twining upwards and curving vermiculous about their sides and gnawing against each other. Puîyus just knew that the only option left unto them lay in flying and fleeing as the Dragons struggled to free themselves from the rondurent and fractal snare. As he came spinning around some of the towers, the sound of the clockwork arising about him reminded him a little of birds chirming all the while, the gears were even grinding together in vaguely avian patterns, and swinging up around a great spiraling tower he looked outwards and saw that the seamarge was just a few leagues away, the cliffs arising in sheer white walls, and the ice pterodons and seamews were fleeing away from the Dragons bursting up out of the froth. By now the maze was growing upwards several new towers, and these almost all appeared to be inside out, so that the winding passageways and rooms and halls were spinning outside upon the newel rather than within, that the maze itself was becoming endless crennelations poking upwards in embrasure out of the froth. And all the while new faces were opening within the labyrinth and pouring outwards came clouds of clockwork reaching upwards and forming new towers and grinding jaws, and bursting out of them all the Dragons wroth were arising and turning their faces in the direction that the children were flying and at last catching their scent.
Silvern and midnight black, his wings of splendor, his entire body ice shattering to reveal thews of flame within Prince Kherènxhuqhe came crashing out of a great complex of of pendula and wheel, and his eyen blinding mirrors, his jaws casting off plasma and froth he cried out – Behold the Children! Just a few leagues away, find them, lay wing upon them, make sure that the Princess watches as he rip open the gossoon’s body, pry her eyen open, she must watch the torture we have planned for him! –
Puîyus came bounding up upon a spiral and threw the rope towards the next tower, he did not bothing sparing the Dragons a backwards glance, especially since Ixhúja was already doing so as well as two of Aîya’s heads. – Torture? He they the mentioned torture! – gasped Aîya. – Fhólus never not never told me anything about the torture! Sure I we hearing him right the? –
– … – Ixhúja muttered.
– Surely just mean torture the Puîyos – chanted Aîya – and not the rest of us – she added, as Puîyus came leaping up and came spinning right through the cloud of clockwork, the wheels battering about them as strange insectoid things, huge monstrious forms creating themselves out of the wheels and settling downwards to become part of the fractal time piece. Puîyus came crawling about the next spiral and within the blink of an eye was already making his next move, even as the Dragons were arising and nearing about them all, for the chase was one, and the Dragons were drumbeat after them and endless roar.
– Okay okay not so bad if Dragons just tortue Puîyos, right? – asked Aîya. – After all, we only really need a new Empress. Emperor is panálèqera, he is lagniappe, great to have him but not entirely vital. Empress we need, new Mother of the Land. Kind. Compassionate. Warm. Emperor, meh. He all about war and blood. –
– Aîya, I don’t think you know my Puey very well – chanted Éfhelìnye.
– So I says it says I, let’s just throw Puîyos to the dragon and flee? Who with me? – Aîya asked, and her other two heads chanted – I agree! – – I concur! – – Lo, we all dittoing here. –
Ixhúja was about to say something about how casteless slaves are not entitled to opinions, but as Puîyus was swinging through a new cloud of growing clockwork and the pieces were arising ominous and fierce unto all sides of them, Ixhúja found her energies best expended in punching away at the growing bits of the clock.
– So, time to surrender now? – asked Aîya.
– Puey and I refuse to acknowledge the possibility of our surrendering – Éfhelìnye chanted. – Others surrender unto him and me. –
Puîyus landed upon a spiral and kicked aside some of the fractal waves of machinery growing, and Aîya twisted her heads back to the Dragons and cried out – Okay, so if we give you Puîyos to torture, you let rest of us go, no? –
– No, I’ll capture all four of you – cried Prince Kherènxhuqhe.
– Right, but you only torture Puîyos, right? –
– That’s correct – cried Prince Kherènxhuqhe. – If you surrender to us. –
– Ah. Good. –
– The Khnìnthan Princess gets a swift and painless death. I shall probably just eat you myself, little slave. We may deliver Éfhelìnye to her Father for him to sacrifice by his own august hand. But Puîyos we shall torture alive ourselves. –
Aîya nodded her three heads. – The agreement not so bad. So, rest of you, let’s just throw the little Emperor to the Dragon. We get guarentee of no torture! –
Ixhúja punched Aîya across two of her heads, and the third head squealed and buried itself against Éfhelìnye’s neck. Éfhelìnye waved at her cousin to stop her from hurting the creature and chanted – Aîya, we all love you dearly, but we’re not going to surrender. –
– But no want torture! – cried Aîya. – Pain pain pain pain pain! –
Puîyus came leaping upwards through a great cloud of wheels and disques spinning themselves about and forming themselves into a new complex, and this time he came rolling downwards towards some of the outer sheets of some growing and almost petal towers, and the edges were all like windows opening up all about him, and within he could hear the breathing and shuffling of so many blue unicorns within. Puîyus drew out his nose fife and stuck it into his nostrils and began to breathe out a sound which became a wailing tune.
– No want torture no want! – cried Aîya. – Let’s torture Puîyos instead. He they all … oh gross! Terrible! That the most disgusticating, that has got to be the grossest thing I’ve e'er seen! – shouted the Traîkhiim, all three of her heads turning around and glaring at Puîyus as he played a few notes upon his lyàfhepa nose flute. – Isn’t this the time when hero supposed to be saving the day with flashing sword and flashing fighting! –
– What’s so disgusting? – asked Éfhelìnye looking around, and the towers were shaking a little, several more Dragons were bursting out of the maze in the oceans, froth fractalsque flowing upwards about their squamous bodies.
– Purr? – asked Ixhúja.
– Stuck the tlapitzalli up into his nose in his nostrils his nose! – cried Aîya.
– Of course – chanted Éfhelìnye. – That’s the way that one must play it. –
Ixhúja smacked Aîya’s third head around a few times in punishment for saying such a thing and hissing a little chanted, What did you expect, that he’d put the flute into his ear? You’re not making any sense at all. Granted, playing the Nasenflöte now is not perhaps the most valorious of options, but is not for you to critizise!
– But nose all sticky and crawly and drippy and gross! – chanted Aîya. – Should know, have three noses myself, and more nostrils than I can count. –
– Six? – asked Éfhelìnye.
Ixhúja counted on her fingers and purred unto herself, The Traîkhiim has this many. Purr purr purr purr purr purr. You’re right! Six!
– Sticking anything in nose is gross! – chanted Aîya. – Even aliens should know that. You want to play flute after he stuck in nose? –
– I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t know how to play – chanted Éfhelìnye.
What do you expect, that he’ll stick the flute in his mouth? Ixhúja was murmuring in the language of beasts. Now that’s unthinkable, just think of the saliva and teeth in there, not to mention words all bumping around. You aliens sure are stupid.
– Everyone knows lips are for kissing and noses are for musical instruments and lips are for kissing, that’s the stablished order of things, I’m sure it comes straight from the Prophet who was enthused by the Immortals themselves – chanted Éfhelìnye as the shadow of the Dragons fell upon them. – And yet I sincerely hope that our last conversation in life isn’t about the proper playing of a lyàfhepa upanga ohe hano ihu, the bambus flute of the nose. –
– I’m telling your Father! – roared Prince Kherènxhuqhe as the last league between him and the children melted away, and swirling all around him arose several more of his cohorts, and Puîyus continued to play his little song upon the nosefife, and as he swayed from side to side it almost looked like a jig, somewhat peiratical in nature, and the music arising from him-then came flowing downwards throughout the skeletal layers of the tower and deeper into the fractalization of the labyrinth all about them all, and answering came the sound of thunderous legs and roaring skulls and the songs of the blue unicorns as they came rushing outwards and prepared to trample and impale all things. Once Puîyus thought his portion of the music was complete, he tossed the lyàfhepa pitungilong into his pocket and leapt out high into the air before even finding a place to secure his rope, and spinning the rope high into the air caught the edge of the next clockwork tower and swung himself and the Princesses twain and little Aîya upwards. They did not quite make it unto the crest of their swaying, for the Dragons were already upon them and breathing out fires in all directions and the rope frayed and snapped, and Puîyus had to hurl out another rope and catch a lower section of the towers and spinning outwards in the growing fractal clouds, even as he was singing out the Unicorn Song, and the mazes were opening upwards and revealing creatures with no eyen and no faces crashing outwards through froth and dust and fractal great.
– I we they mean not saying sticking object in nose not completely gross just a little funny to think that future Emperor likes to stick things in his nose that’s a little strange to me alright almost as strange as future Emperor hanging out with pirates who don’t notice all the pygmæ on board it’s just a little odd not entirely sure that the our tushed Qhaôtriim Elders were aware of how loopynutsdraft crack-brained bisarik frenezeta strange this new little Emperor going to be oh don’t mind the Empress she bring us back to life helping to save us from the Qhíng plus so incredibly gorgeous just want to chop her up into little pieces and feast on her all the time but still this new Emperor … help! Help! Can’t breathe! – So Aîya was muttering to herself until Éfhelìnye caught up two of her mouths in her hands and shut them between her fingers, and peering towards the third head chanted – Aîya, be quiet. And remember, one is only permitted to say good things about my beloved Puey. Do you understand? –
– He sticks flutes up his nose! – cried Aîya.
– Purr! – shouted Ixhúja as she pointed untowards a Dragon spinning around them and opening up his phosphorescent gills and snapping his jaws preparing to coat them all in flame-phi, but just as the Dragon coughed outwards, its wings became crackles of lightning and snow, and cascades of white and sticky plasma began dribbling out of the Dragon’s jaws, and the Dragon’s baleful eyen were gazing from side to side as it realized that a great horn was impaling it right through its stomache, and the Dragon beat back and forth with hits barbed wings and fought against the unicorn which was ripping it apart. Puîyus held onto the maidens and came leaping downwards through a lower region of the maze, he came sliding about some of the new wheels that were sliding into place and grinding against each other, even as the Monsters were arising. Of a sudden, several of the froth walls of the labyrinth were bursting upwards, massive clouds of clockwork were twining around each other but even as they were tyring to assemble themselves out came roaring several of the blue Unicorns of the maze, and they took a few stumbling steps upwards throughout the growing concourses of the maze, and at first several of the Unicorns were still forming themselves out of the inane rectangles and of flutterations of squares, and the Unicorns were arising unto their heights, their tall zarāfa legs wobbling a little, their bodies arising camelopard tall, their hooves smashing against the walls and growing fractals of the maze, their long necks reaching outwards and ending in vast and triple skulls whose fangs were gnawing against each other, and from whose center the impaling horn was arising tushing and jabbing at the Dragons in their wild chase.