Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Something Vast and Monstrious and Drooling

You twain chanted it – Éfhelìnye chanted, as the Fhàjhati Xhròpfhe arose for to capture nekiυmva the children within the labyrinth. Several more loops of flowing roping drool came spilling downwards from the arising skulls of the blue unicorns arising behind the Children. The consistency of the drool was thick and gelid and flowing within it were bits and pieces of bone and coral and strands of pink which had once been the blood of the victims of the nekiυmva. Some of the drool was just dribbling down and splashing right down upon the heads of the children, some of it was flowing downwards in wide waves, while other strands of mucilaginous drool began to drip out between the fangs and horns of the skulls and made their way in oozing necrotic puffs. The drool was mostly falling upon Puîyus and Ixhúja’s heads, and the children bristled a little not just at the Monsters that were forming themselves all about them, Monsters that had somehow managed to materialize into the rooms and halls and whorls deep within the twists of the maze, but also at the thought of this jelly splashing downwards upon their most luxurious and shining hair, and Puîyus tried to wipe away the drool from Ixhúja’s golden tresses and flick it away, while Ixhúja reached o'er and tried to scoop away the drool falling upon Puîyus’ melancholy blue strands, and all about them within the walls and about the growing halls and throughout the darkness of the mist endless billions upon billions of rectangle and square fragments were flowing upwards and connected themselves like so many brickbats, but rather than connecting in the way that hexagonal fhrìku and xùngiqhe and àtlheil and ijófhoi slide together to form greater patterns of triangles and circles and curves, the shapes still remained squamous and irregular and of the fell patterns of squares and trianglery. Slowly sloughing upwards were come the great hooved legs of the beasts, and here Puîyus and Ixhúja could see, even as the Monsters were materializing, that the hooves themselves were tipped in sword and claw, and that the legs themselves were almost completely disproportionate one to another, as if the beasts were illformed, their bodies strung out and beshrunken, and all of the limbs were flowing legs spreading outwards and tipped in ripping sharp edges. What was most terrifying of all was the lack of head and face and eyen that the blue Unicorns had, but rather the serpentile neck ending in layers of antlers and huge opening trifold skulls which gaped open to reveal jaws and within them another set of jaws and then a third, all gnashmunchent twisting about and growling and letting drool flow down through it all. Several more splashes of drool hissing and warm fell slobbering about the children burning driveling sialorrhea ptyalism drifting outwards, and Puîyus and Ixhúja as they wiped each other off we realizing in the dripping cascade that they were not doing a particularly good job of it, the drivel flowing just a little too fast. They both turned at the same time and saw that although hissing loops of drool were falling right down untowards Princess Éfhelìnye that none of the drivel itself was actually touching her or her hair or face or clothing at all, but rather the drool completely evanescenced and became mist before it could touch her person, for no dirt or impurity could remain long upon her, save for some paint upon her fingernails, and blood which was the heartbeat of all the Land. Puîyus and Ixhúja were not a little surprised to see that Éfhelìnye was completely unscathed unaffected unconcerned with the Monsters forming all about them and the concomitant droolfall raining down upon her, in fact she was drawing out some small pipes from her pocket and a measuring spoon and scooping up some of the drool upon the floor and examining it and saying unto her – Perhaps we can save some samples and bring them unto Grandfather Pátifhar, an analysis of the chemical structure of these blue Fhàjhati may yield some insights as to what the Xeriîqe were intending. I don’t think that the Fhàjhati, being Monsters, had a fully developed system of internal organs, since they do not eat in the conventional sense, they’re more like a form of mad energy wrapped up in some strange alchemy. – She scooped up some more drool and setting it into the tube shook it a little, and the drool within the pipe began to change shape, sometimes it was a necroplasmic spiral arising and from it horns were growing, othertimes it was as graceful as a narvalüt dashing throughout the polar seas, but all the while the drool held within it the consistency of sharpness and knives and swords. She closed up the tube and looking around noticed for the first time just completely surrounded the children were within the center of the maze, that the Xhròpfhe were flowing down the walls of the trice-dimensional maze, that great columns of clockwork were arising in all directions, and that the mechanism which she had unraveled and unwound and somehow managed to decypher was doing nothing but spew out white smoke and continue to weave an endless labyrinth unto all sides of them, and the nekiυmva were come yī jiǎo jīng narhval narwal náhvalur sarvivalas phálaina nárbal náhvalur narvalo ikkaku ilgak-gorae narvál unto all sides of the children.
– Don’t worry, I think I have a plan – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted as she placed the pipes into her pocket. Several rectangular hooves were appearing behind her, a long cascade of drool splashing right down unto her head before evaporating in brilliant nimboids. – Puîyus here is a most gentle, courteous, devouted, sensitive young Knight, devoted unto filial piety for his Ancestors, loyal to his Father, and obedient to the will of the heavenly and holy Ása who cannot die. Beautiful and brave he is, and yet he has the soul of a poet, a songster who would weep at the death of a single flower, and lie melancholy to be scorned by his Princess fair. Why, implacable, invincible, illustrious in battle stormlike he arises, scattering his enemies all about him, blood bespewed in all directions! – Éfhelìnye spun around in a rather balletic interpretation of how she thought such battles would be represented in dance, and she slipped and kicked about a little. Puîyus shook some more drool from his head as several more blue Fhàjhati were arising behind them, and he wrung from drivel out of Ixhúja’s hair, and the sound of the horns of the blue okapi reminded him of sniffling and breathing and tasting the air.
Were you about to make an argument there? Ixhúja told her cousin in a glance and added, Or were you just intending to wax elegant about Íngìkhmar’s Son here?
Princess Éfhelìnye spun around in a pirouette and bowed down in a graceful swirl. – I’m saying that Puey is the very idealization of chivalry and knight-errantry, that he moves in a world where knights and damsels distressed area always in trouble, where lords and ladies and princesses are everywhere, and where Monsters can be slaughtered by those pure of heart. I’m saying perhaps Puey can fight his way upwards throughout these central corridors, for it seems that the unicorns are swarming about us, and if we can make our way through the centroid of this skerry, we shall arise through the seas. –
Puîyus looked around and glanced at the central column of clockwork and all of the wheels and dials spinning around and hissing out with clouds of white, the very heart of the maze opening upwards and spilling out coiling albescence and pointing unto it wondered why it was that white smoke had been beckoning them from afar. Puîyus did not mind traveling deep into the labyrinth and fighting these Monsters, but he did not understand the geometries and purpose of this vessel. He looked around, though, and once again the Monsters within the Maze were become completely solidic, although this time they revealed within their louted thews scales and feathers completely of squares and rectangles formed, and he bristled to think of those qhás polygons moguls spinning around in such inane patterns. The ancient Dragon Sword in his hand was bursting out into bright incense flows. Ixhúja was scrambling about the walls and swinging her twin swords about, and preparing herself for the inevitable attack by these blue re’em twisting all about them.
Puîyus lifted up his hand and began writing out glyphs, so that Éfhelìnye could read, and told he her, The Fhàjhati are poor of eyesight, although they can sniff the blood of children and virgins and priests and princesses. They may not even be able to see us within the maze. Their horns are antennæ, capable of hearing and tasting. Something about the labyrinth is disorienting them. Perhaps we can sneak among them, silent and blind, and crawl up about these central columns and make our way thusly out of the maze.
That’s a slightly better plan, Ixhúja murmured in moans and mews unto Puîyus. She was already crawling up the length of one pillar, and swinging up about the side, looking around and bounding to the next pillar. The only way that the plan could be improved would be if they had an opportunitas for glorious battle with the monsters, but she could feel that something was going to break the spell at any moment. Puîyus looked around, the floor of the labyrinth was now completely swamped with sticky white smoke, and drifting within it came shadows that looked a little like milk whisps dripping from side to side. An occasional flutter and rustle arose within the shade, and the texture of it, fungal and cold, reminded him of far off dreamlands he had visited in dreams, but which for some reason he could not quite identify. The Fhàjhati nekiυmva were almost upon the children, for the blue unicorns were sweeping their golden slacc from side to side and trying to taste the presence of the children. Puîyus thought that now would be a good time to leave, perhaps another day they could investigate this skerry and sunken laboratory and find out why the milch clouds had been summoning them, but for now the mystery was best left to slumber. He signaled unto Éfhelìnye and taking her hand they ran through the white mist even as the gnarled hooves of the unicorns began to stomp down about them, like some strange monstrious bird attempting to squish insects down. As Éfhelìnye ran through the white smoke, and she kept stealing glimpses backwards at the coming of the blue qílín, saw she that trifold skulls were opening and snapping and grinding all the while, and the flute horns were breathing out some strange dissonant song. She ducked through the white smoke with Puîyus, but as they neared the central mechanism, all of the spiracles of the machine opened up about her and breathed upon her with shafts of air, and flowing out from Éfhelìnye arose pink clouds that were heavily saturated with the sugar and cinnamon that were her breath. Puîyus hoisted Éfhelìnye upwards unto the mechanism and started to help her clammer up the thrawn towers, and both of the children could see that the Fhàjhati were growing quite agitated as the cinnamon and sugar smell arose about them, the horns were quavering as great insectoid antennæ, and the skulls of the creatures were screaming to think that such a sweet and maidenly presence lay somewhere about them. Puîyus pulled Éfhelìnye up after him and taking ahold of her began climbing up the length of one column and then up the next, and all the while made their way higher and higher within the central towers, as the unicorns migrating about them and searched for that heavenly sugar smell.
Puîyus came bounding upwards higher and higher still, as Éfhelìnye clung unto his neck, but the jacinth Fhàjhati did not remain only sweeping throughout the ground within the clouds of glowing white, for in the endless bridges and layers of the maze they were walking from side to side and hunting for the princessfol smell of cinnamon. Puîyus came landing right upon the tip of one column and almost tumbled downwards as a gigantic Fhàjhati thundering upon its giraffe legs cruashed against the pillar and its antlers were sweeping from side to side, so Puîyus had to bound outwards and land upon a different column to avoid getting impaled. The Fhàjhati, although they could not see very well within the shadows of the maze were nearing closer to the children and the central mechanism that opened all the skerry labyrinth. Puîyus came spinning up higher and bounced against some of the undulous antlers and carried Éfhelìnye up high unto some of the branching horns of the maze, where Ixhúja was prowling and holding her brands and looking from side to side. Puîyus landed right towards her and nodded and looking around pointed unto where the clockweyth arose in coils, unto where all of the ceiling was arching upwards.
Ixhúja tapped Éfhelìnye on her shoulder, and purred unto her in a low voice to tell her, No one has to carry me around in order to bound through the air! Why, not only can I leap up unto the hights, but I can do so while holding a sword and fighting against nameless Monster hordes!
Éfhelìnye tapped her finger to her lips in a sign for silence. Ixhúja stomped her foot in protest and continued to murmur in a deep feline language to say, I’m just saying I’m not completely useless in this venture unlike some other relative that I could mention! The holy ikhṓr of the Pwéru burns hot within me!
Éfhelìnye made a few more hushing sounds with her finger and lips, but Ixhúja was not paying any attention at all. Puîyus took a few steps away from the ledge and found that several of the blue Fhàjhati were arising about some of the ramps in this area of the maze, they were stomping and sniffing the cinnamon smell. He spun around and saw a point where the ramps were reaching upwards unto the clockwork tower and knew that he could outrace the blind unicorns there. He tapped Ixhúja on the shoulder and pointed whereunto they had to go, but Ixhúja was too busy bouncing from side to side and snarling at her cousin even to notice.
I’m just saying that I’m better at you in everything! Ixhúja was snarling in mews and spits waxing just a little too loud. At least I’m better at you at everything that matters, in fighting and struggling and fixing clockwork, not in any frivolous persuits such as dance and playing and all those other hobbies of yours!
Please keep your voice down, Éfhelìnye whispered.
Ixhúja shook her fist at Éfhelìnye and snarling yelled, I’ll be as quiet or loud as I want, you little milkfaced flowerspleened fungushead! All at once the columns were waving from side to side like trees quivering before the windsqualls and several blue Fhàjhati were arising, their trifold skulls arising and bursting out with waves of drool in all directions. Puîyus at once bound upwards and clasped his hand o'er Ixhúja’s mouth and suffered her attempts at biting him back, for he thought it best if they remained as silent as possible before these implacable Monsters. The unicorns were turning aside, they could taste the cinnamon in the air, and yet the scent was being lost somewhere within the white smoke. Slowly Puîyus removed his hand from Ixhúja, and she rewarded him by punching him across his face.
Please be quiet, my beloved cousin, Éfhelìnye whispered.
Ixhúja stuck out her tounge and crossed her arms. The Fhàjhati nekiυmva were about to turn their tripleskulls aside, their horns and fangs arising and grinding against each other. Ixhúja sighed and wondered how her cousin could withstand being so annoying, surely Éfha must bother herself with her own silly vexations. Ixhúja pounded her hands into each other. Puîyus and Éfhelìnye were sighing in relief as the grat Xhròpfhe unicorns were turning aside and ready to investigate other quarters of the labyrinth. Puîyus reached unto his head and drew out some of the drivel that was still splashing down there and flung it out, and Éfhelìnye helped him wipe off the tsopo-born drool. Ixhúja turned around and much to her surprise sneezed thrice. Puîyus’ jaw dropped. Ixhúja took a step back and covered her face in embarrassment. Éfhelìnye wrapped her arms tighter about Puîyus. The Fhàjhati serou were all turning around at once, and sensed the princesssome sneeze, and came bounding forwards right untowards the children. Ixhúja growled. She was about to draw her double swords and fling herself into battle, but Éfhelìnye whispered something into Puîyus’ ear, and he bound upwards and in a single movement yanked Ixhúja aside and carried her as he came leaping up the walls of the column. The blue Fhàjhati were upon them and they were becrashing their fangs and horns through the columns, their golden swords swinging from side to side in an attempt to cut and impale whatever they could find, and Puîyus bound up right beneath some swinging skulls and came slipping up the side of a column, and all at once found himself in the midst of raving Unicorns spinning around wroth and blind and certain that at least two princesses lay somewhere within their grasp. Puîyus realized that no longer was it the time for sneaking and disgression, after all the Fhàjhati were growing enraged, and Ixhúja in his arms was just as angry as the okapi were, and she was using her time of being forcibly held and embraced to spit and snarl and bite Puîyus’ ear and in general shook her cousin angry looks. Puîyus came flying upwards all about the Fhàjhati unicorns, they were all beginning to fight in unison, the inner unicorns spinning their golden horns around sunwise while the outerones were spinning their antlers and skulls about counter-sunwise, and they were thrusting their manifold legs against the columns and walls here in the midst of the labyrinth as they arose higher and higher searching for their lost prey, and although Éfhelìnye tried to hush her Cousin up as best she could, still Ixhúja was fighting and snarling and spitting in all directions.
At last Puîyus came leaping up unto the corridors that were leading unto the central mechanism, and he ran up the side of it came came unto some of the winding daises, and for a few moments found himself away from the onslaught of the Unicorns flowing all about them. The mechanism was continuing to open up its eyen and spiracles and to unfold the labyrinth about them, and pouring out from its disques continued to flow the white smoke almost like seafoam dripping down, and several times Puîyus arose through the foam and found himself reminded of ice and fungus and was not entirely sure why. He clammered up unto one of the outlying towers and looking around saw that the maze continued to spread upwards higher and higher still, it was almost like some strange spidery organism crammed into too small a space, and its endless limbs and fangs were creeping out from the darkness, only this spider was all a tower of tube and wheels, and Puîyus was reminded again and again of just how much he disliked machines. He bounced up unto an higher layer and looked around for a point of egress. Several of the eyen of the machine were opening upwards and focusing right unto Princess Éfhelìnye, and all at once blasts of wind arose and blew right unto the Princess, and flowing out from her came long tendrils all of petals forming out of her breath and goodness, they were long living streams of petals golden and white and red, the petals were looping about her hair and flowing about her shoulders and spinning down her back, the tendrils were arising in different winds and orbits and drifting downwards from the great centroid mechanism, and one by one all of the Fhàjhati Unicorns were turning around, and their golden swords were sniffing the petals, and they knew that the princesses could not be too far off.
This is all entirely your fault, Ixhúja hissed as she poked Éfhelìnye a few times. I don’t know you manage to do it, but you take something very simple, like traveling from point Tlhànta to point Kór, and you get us involved in all manner of adventures, and even something as simple as entering a skerry ends up an exercise in you messing everything up!
Didn’t you just fnese back there? Éfhelìnye whispered.
Better than a petal storm!
The Fhàjathi were roaring as they slammed their bodies against the tower mechanism. Puîyus set Éfhelìnye and Ixhúja down, and Éfhelìnye wobbled alittle from side to side, and together Puîyus and Ixhúja drew theirs words and the Monsters attacked them from many sides. Éfhelìnye gazed out and hiccoughed – Hic! Hic! Hic! Hic! Hic! –
The Unicorns were striking. Puîyus and Ixhúja came springing out in opposite directions in their fight, and Éfhelìnye leaned against the pipes of the mechanism and watched as the white smoke continued to arise, and shapes coralline and ghastly were forming within the haze. Puîyus was striking back and forth against several golden swords that were darting before him, the Unicorns had no faces and no eyen, there was absolutely nothing to distract them, they were just cutting and sharpness walking upon tall legs, sometimes Puîyus found himself parrying against one horn while punching several other golden horns reaching out untowards him, othertimes he had to bound away and avoid getting impaled altogether, and the Unicorns were arising and crashing their skulls and antlers against the machinery and letting lose more and more of the white smoke coiled up within the pipes. Puîyus came bounding aside, he stole a look back and saw that Éfhelìnye was fine, and that Ixhúja was skipping about in a dance complete with double swords, she was hacking away at the antlers that were scraping far too close unto her, and every few moments she came spinning away in a brilliant summersault as the unicorns rammed against the wheels. Several of the Fhàjhati were leaping about the layers of the ramp and trying to throw themselves against the Princesses twain, and Ixhúja was jumping upwards and striking against several different re’em at the same time.
Puîyus came spinning through the air, and in the whirl of the Dragon Sword growing flame coronæ were blossoming about him. He struck against the antlers and skulls of several different unicorns, and as he kicked against one horn and struck against another, he tried to think of a way he could wound these creatures. Grandfather Pátifhar had told him before that the Xhròpfhe Fhàjhati were vulnerable about their horns, and the more the dracontine sword of irrational numbers struck against the horns, the brighter and harsher the sword became as he hacked from side to side. Puîyus came spinning upwards and grabbed onto the aurelian edge of a swinging horn, and soon he came rolling down the side and thrust his sword into the trifold skulls of one Unicorn, and it screamed in horrific agonies. Puîyus yanked his sword through one jaw and ripped it right off, and the neck of the Unicorn began to break apart into bone and squares pouring outwards in coralline splashes. Puîyus bound aside and thrust his sword right into the antlers of the next Unicorn and dug his sword right into it again and again. The horns of the qílín were screaming out with the monstrious songs of the nose fife, and this only served to anger Puîyus all the more, because he delighted in music and before his Father had armed him as a warrior at the age of seven winters he had spent much of his time playing harp and harpsichord and breathing into the nose flute and delighting his Sisters and Father and Auntie Qtìmine and the Elders, and to hear a strange parodies of that music unopaingateqhe xiqikeyùlkha qhunxhiyèpwo wrong versions of the bamboo upanga Nasenflöte angered him all the more. He came sliding about one horn and thrust his sword through the antlers and as the horns were screaming out their music, he came swinging about and now struck against the nearest one again and again and again, so that the golden flames of the sword and the skrike music of the horn were becoming one, and Puîyus was himself singing outwards in the music of the nose fife. Suddenly the golden horn shattered, and splashing all about Puîyus came blood and rectangles and drool. The unicorn crashed downwards and became bones and squares, and Puîyus grabbed some of the broken bits of horn bound upwards unto the next Fhàjhati which was crawling up the side of the mechanical columns, and he thrust the unicorn horn right into the antler and bones of the next Unicorn, and it screamed several more times as Puîyus stabbed it. The next Unicorn cried out as its horn shattered, and taking up an even bigger piece Puîyus came swinging through the air and hacking against the bones managed to pull out the golden sword of the Xhroîpfhe nekiυmva. He swung the sword around, even as the Unicorn screamed and began to break apart, and soon Puîyus was leaping about from side to side and stabbing as many of the blue Fhàjhati as he could with one of their own horns, and the screams of the kere was terrible to hear.
Puîyus came springing outwards and spinning around saw that several Unicorns were arising upon the face of the knoll of the maze, and all of them were spinning their trifold skulls about and rushing right untowards him. Puîyus tossed the unicorn horn from side to side and wondered which ones he would strike first. He looked upwards and saw that Ixhúja was fighting against several different Fhàjhati was they crawled up the sides of the maze, she was striking at their horns with her double swords and jabbing right through the skulls and impaling them a little. Éfhelìnye was looking from side to side, and when Puîyus saw that she was looking in his general direction, he nodded unto her and came bounding upwards, he thrust the golden sword right through the neck of the nearest of the Fhàjhati, the Unicorn was trying to leap upwards at the same time, and suddenly all of the bones broke apart, and the Unicorn came crashing downwards, its many giraffe legs quavering from side to side. Puîyus was spinning the horn around and came running up unto the next Unicorn and thrust it into the legs of a passing Monster, it was shreaking with a thirl music, drool was exploding from its triple jaws, and Puîyus punched against the bones a few times until the monster began to fall downwards. Several more Fhàjhati were leaping out right towards him, their hooves were galloping. Puîyus swung his sword around in one arm and the flames of the sword were cutting right through the hooves while he impaled some legs with the horn, and the Fhàjhati screaming were tumbling about him. And yet the Unicorns were coming in such numbers, they were almost tumbling about each other as they tumbled through the maze, they were leaping fleet and terrible. Puîyus came bounding upwards around some of the smaller towers of the maze, the white smoke completely covered the sward, he was spinning his sword about and from it came flame and lavender and pink, and he parried against the Fhàjhati bounding against him, he came leaping aside as several more of the Unicorns began to clammer up the side of the mechanism and reach untowards the Princess, screams yells a terribile music arising about them. Puîyus ripped through the skull of another of the Unicorn and began bounding upwards to return unto the maidens, he thought it best that if he had to die protecting them, it would be best to make their last stand higher up here, where the white smoke and the mist could not touch them. He came bounding back towards the Princesses, the thousand Fhàjhati were circling them about. Puîyus tossed the severed unicorn horn unto Ixhúja and she spun it around and made good use of it, she jabbed against one Fhàjhati and then the next and they were exploding into blood and rectacles and screams, and she and Puîyus were doing their best to fight as swift and fleet as terrible against Monsters who had almost no minds and no idea of goodness and mercy. And the Fhàjhati were screaming and circling about the Children and trying to jab at them with antlers and horn, they were scraping against the machinery and screaming all the while.
And in the spree of the Monsters, blood and drool and water bursting upwards from the triple jaws and the bones and squares, the Unicorns were grown even more mad as they tried to reach for the Children to impale them. Puîyus grabbed the horn of one Unicorn and thrust it backwards with all his strength so that it burst out through the creature’s own skull, and it screamed out all the louder, but as the Unicorn began to slink and scream in its fall, several more Fhàjhati arose and attacked the first one, they began ripping at its antlers and horns until the wounded Unicorn screamed out, its internal bones exploding all about it. Ixhúja arose and thrust the golden horn through the skull of a passing Unicorn, and as the triple jaws exploded, the other Unicorns fell upon it and bit at the neck and flailing limbs and bit it apart. Puîyus yanked out the horn ofone Unicorn and threw it down, and as the neck exploded torquatious, flesh falling downwards, the other Unicorns turned upon it and began to impale its legs and crucify their fellow Monster, so that all of the layers of the maze and all of the columns of machinery in the center was all nekiυmva and terror qílínmakhía.
Princess Éfhelìnye was running her hands through the bursting white clouds flowing from the machinery and she chanted partially to herself but also for her companions to hear saying – The smoke is not alive but is it not fully dead either. The Xeriîqen machines have been compressing and gathering this smoke and keeping it within these pipes, perhaps it was a power source perhaps a little like so many khmàrnta peppermints used to power some living ships pipromentes. –
Puîyus and Ixhúja were slashing from side to side and horrified to see that the Fhàjhati Xhròpfhe were not only trying to slay them but also turned against their fellow creature, Puîyus impaled one Unicorn with its own horn, but before Puîyus could even smash the skull, several more re’emim came leaping upwards and ripped open all of its limbs and scattered its insides about, Ixhúja thrust her sword through the antlers of one unicorn, and even though it was just a small wound, three of its brethren were reaching upwards and yanking out its horn and impaling it in several directions at all. Sometimes Puîyus and Ixhúja just slashed against a single Unicorn before everything became a frenzy of horns and bleeding triangles and squares, and the Unicorns in their rising and falling, bounding and stumbling throughout the unicorn were sometimes harder to strike, but it no longer mattered, the Fhàjhati were become a terror in ripping each other and impaling the next, and Puîyus and Ixhúja looked to each other in terror not merely at the shape of so many ungainly rectangles and squares, but also because the fight and horror of the Unicorns reminded the children too much of pùxhno omophagists, canibalen feasting upon the flesh of their own kind, a tapu unto almost all the Real People, and especially unto the children of Xhámi who do not eat flesh at all save for that caught of the sea.
– The Xeriîqe were trying to capture something within the mist – Éfhelìnye chanted, as she was running her hands about the clouds and the great wheels of the column of machinery. – Perhaps this was an experiment that went wrong. I find it very familiar, do you remember seeing the shredded whisps of khyitsèkhwu chryasalis cocoons from the edge of the skerry? They are just like the seas of chrysales that we found within the reservations within my Father’s Holy City. –
Puîyus stole a look backwards, even as the Unicorns were arising and screaming and impaling each other and still trying to slash against the Children, and the Fhàjhati were jibberjabbering all the while striking against each other, thundering and falling about the edge of the maze in their mounting skrikes. Éfhelìnye scrambled about several of the wheels and dials of the machinery, she opened up all of the flood gates and no longer could anyone even see the machinery any more, for it was just a column of growing white smoke filling up all of the ground and swamping many of the corridors of the maze, and dripping upwards about the shadow came the outline of skeletal wings and long serpentine necks, and ribs breathing back and forth for triple lungs. Éfhelìnye came swinging outwards unto the ledge and began to spin around right in the midst of the white smoke and cried out – The Xeriîqe were trying to capture the smoke halfway between life and death, don’t you understand? They wanted to harness the wind dance of it all. –
Ixhúja had long ago despaired of tempting to understand her cousin Éfhelìnye when she fell into certain obscure and creative moods, and contended herself with just fighting against the Unicorns when the Fhàjhati turned and kept jabbing against the Children. Puîyus came rolling out through the white smoke, splashes of arising and congealing wax drifting about him, and as Éfhelìnye began to dance within the white smoke, it all began to change and take unto itself small forms of eyen and heads and blinking faces and limbs swirling from side to side, and the smell of the smoke became more like unto the fungal forests and endless ice waves which Puîyus had experienced before when he had traveled outwards unto Triîm Khixhatàkhta and the asteroids of Qtènga and Fhriîsan and Triimèqya. Within the smoke were long waves all of flowing chrysalis drifting a little as blankets and shrouds, and serpentine heads were veering out of them, and great bone wings shivering from side to side, and long leg-arms poking out of the smoke and setting down upon the floor and becoming solidic for the first time in quite a long time.
Princess Éfhelìnye around and smiled within the mounting white smoke and chanted – The skerry labyrinth housed machinery that contained Traîkhiim at the moment of their death, they were like smoke, and they were beckoning unto us, for the Triîm Khìxhis Qíperis Pèqlor folk know that the Son of Khiêro wellremembers them, as well as the Starflower Princess. – Éfhelìnye was running through the smoke, she kicked up through it in brilliant arabesques, the smoke was bursting up around her and all about her were appearing the outline of the gentle Traîkhiim people, their triple heads arising upwards from spherical and plumed torsos, and triple limbs snaking downwards from the bodies, and drifting about them were flowing out memories of cocoon fluttering like so man butterfly wings about them. And Princess Éfhelìnye continued to dance until all of the centroid mechanism was covered in the shadowy outline of Traîkhiim all about the wheels and walls and the sides of the corridors, and the now all of the halls and rooms and chambers of the maze were also yfilled with endless hundreds of Traîkhiim materializing and made all out of drifting white. And for a few moments even the thousand Fhàjhati Unicorns were backing up a little, blind and insensate they, but even they could sense that something very eldritch was happening, as all of the maze arose and blossomed unto its greatest extent and was completely crammed with white smoke Traîkhiim. And as Princess Éfhelìnye came unto the end of her resurrection dance, as she lifted up all of her arms and the dead Traîkhiim took form, she spun around and breathed into the white smoke, and the smoke was no more, but rather all became Traîkhiim coming back into life and breathing for the first time in a long tide, and their triple lungs were filling with air, their feathers were rustling, and color was appearing within their triple eyen. And the Traîkhiim were looking from side to side, their bodies were sparkling in feathers quetzal of reds and blues and greens and golds, their wings flapping from side to side in chrysalis shining, their beaks snapping and barking a little against the air, their antennæ whisp ears flapping from side to side, and for a few moments they very completely disoriented, for so long had they floated, liminal and dreaming as smoke between the worlds of the quick and the dead.
Puîyus took a few steps forwards and bowed unto Éfhelìnye and then unto the hundred thousand Traîkhiim looking around and brushing their plumage and looking around a little confused at the machinery and walls. Princess Ixhúja grabbed a shattered unicorn horn and jabbed it through the triple jaws of the nearest Fhajhàtixing and twisted it and ripped the Monster apart and muttered unto herself as if to say, I’m sure I could have done the same, danced and brought the creatures back to life if I had wanted to. So, these are Fhólus folk, aren’t they? What are they called? XhajhyaFhólus? The many Fhólus? Ixhúja bounced aside and kicked aside several broken antlers and skenes of the Unicorns and murmured as it to say, Cousin, you used the term Fholúxha in your book, are they called the Fholúxha people?
– That’s the name of the Clan that Fhólus founds, the Fholúxha – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted. – These people are a folk of many names, but in full they tend to call themselves the Traîkhiim Triîm Tlhiîmen Lwíkhlim Lyíkham Xhlúnakh Khìxhis Qíperis Pèqlor, the children of Akhàkhma the Onomatothete. –
Ixhúja yawned and told herself that she would just call them the Fhólus folk, it seemed an easier name to her ears, and since Fhólus was the first one among this people she had met, she would for ever after associate them with him or her, Fhólus Fholúxha of the Clan Xayúkhta Khoyúkhta. Puîyus was walking among the Traîkhiim folk and they were falling upon their complex elbow sockets and bowing down low before him and murmuring one to another in slight piping voices saying – There he is, that is the Offspring of Khiêro! He is the one who was the pàrtel the missionary sent to civilize us. This is the Rising Sun, the new Emperor of whom our tushed Elders have been whispering and preparing ourselves. Come, bow down before the Child of Khiêro, the ancient Hero who first came and did omaĝo unto the Children of the Nomathete. –
Several of the Traîkhiim were arising and fluttering downwards before Éfhelìnye, most of them were falling right upon their elbows and leaning their triple heads down, and they were opening up their large shroud wings xùsti cratheneel and pressing their little faces down, their feathers outwhispering from side to side, their triple forked tounges breathing outwards, and soon the first of the Traîkhiim all about the Starflower Princess were fallen down obesiencesome to do her honor, and rippling out away from her the Traîkhiim that were flying enhooked themselves unto the wheels and machinery and bowed down in kind, and others were falling upon the ground and slipping about the walls and flowing within the maze, until all of the ten thousand Traîkhiim who had been reborn within the white smoke were bowing down before the Princess and whispering again and again – Empress! Empress! Empress! Empress! –
The Unicorns were not attacking at the moment, they were writhe against each other intent upon rippling the other apart and impaling their einhorned brethren, and so it was that the Traîkhiim folk were afforded a moment to bask in the glory of the Empress for whom they had longed for so long an age. Princess Éfhelìnye felt a little embarrassed to be the center of attention, her face glistened with a slight apple sheen, as the Traîkhiim were lifting up their heads and setting them down again, their deathrobe wings rustling a little. Puîyus and Ixhúja stood a few qyíyaûxi cubits aside, and they held their swords at their waists and wondered at the humilitas of the Traîkhiim. Puîyus fell upon his knees and began to bow also before her, he thought it only courteous and polite that he do the same as the Traîkhiim, a people whom he loved and who had fought against the Qhíng for so many generations. Ixhúja just snorted and played with a few of her golden tresses and made grumblent sound that meant, If anyone thinks that I intend to bow down before my crazy Khniîkhan Cousin, I shall fight and bite him a few times.
– Oh Theá, Dea, Ais, Eis! – cried the hundred thousand Traîkhiim as they addressed the Starflower Princess. Several thousand were arising from their bowing, their wings were unflapping and drifting from them-then came the last memories of white smoke and whisp, and the Traîkhiim were spinning about upon the edge of nimboids blossoming about them-phin. One of the Traîkhiim arose and came swirling about Princess Éfhelìnye, this Traîkhiim was glistening with white and golden feathers, it was Triîmexhil as female as she could become, her eyen were shocks of violets and brilliant quetzalcrests were flowing down about her three heads. About her domed torso came her triple wings, they were thick and glowing and looked a little like the wings of a qàsorn swan, crackling feathers sparkling from side to side with white scintillations riOkogzkEos, naⁿnkogzjEnkEos, and she came drifting right up unto the Princess and flung herself down unto Éfhelìnye’s ballet slipps and cried out – Oh Nǚshén Megami, oh Cælestial one! Thee wee thank for awakening us from our death slumber! Long have we slept and dreamt the dreams of smoke, and all of our thoughts have been partially of life and partially of death! – The female Traîkhiim was spilling upwards now, while all about Éfhelìnye the thousand thousand Traîkhiim were arising and falling and bowing and rolling and doing homage unto the Princess and saying – Many of us have been thralls of sleep since the Xeriîqe accosted us and set us within the skerry labyrinth. –
– I know you, don’t I? – Éfhelìnye chanted as the feminine Traîkhiim was arising and pulling out some of her own feathers and some bits of her shroud wings and making of them a simple festoon. The Traîkhiim fluttered upwards and set the garlend about Éfhelìnye’s head and chanted – It is unimportant who we I they are, oh Empress, only important that you you you the new Empress the apotheosis that will free burn rebirth all the Land! – And once Éfhelìnye was wellcrowned, the female Traîkhiim came spinning downwards and fell flat upon her triple faces and whispered – Hail, oh Empress! Hail, Daughter of the Qwasiêla! Hail, oh Bride of the Viceroy kingdoms, the spawn of the empyrean Suns, the one in whose xylem phloemque rolls the blood of the Immortals! Hail, oh Empress, hail salvation of the poploe ìsa iyéxha! –
Puîyus looked around, he could hear the sound of bone and square grinding each other, and he saw that the Unicorns in their wrath were impaling each other and rippling out their jaws and limbs, but he knew that it would only be a matter of time before the mindless and blue Fhàjhati remembered the scent of the Princesses and child within the maze, not to mention now the great horde of bowing Traîkhiim. He tugged unto Ixhúja’s sleeve and signaled that it was time for them to move, and they glanced up unto the twisting orrery machinery in the center of the labyrinth. Pincess Éfhelìnye took a few steps upwards and pressing her hand unto the female Traîkhiim picked her up and brushed her white and gold feathers and chanted – I believe you are Aîya Àsya, are you not? Fhólus had mentioned you several times, Aîya, although I do not know the name of your Clan. Perhaps I can guess, since the Traîkhiim all count their descent from either Àqhu or Úla or Álu or Fhúxha or Úkhta, and the four names are used again and again. –
As Puîyus walked among the Traîkhiim they were all twisting about and hiding their faces before him, for although they loved their new Emperor who was descended of Khiêro who long ago had tried to liberate them from the whip-swords and tentacles of the Qhíng, they still feared Puîyus a little, and his Sister Ixhúja was fairly unknown unto them, so that they rolled about and wriggled and whimpered as Ixhúja came into their midst. Ixhúja had fond memories of Fhólus whom she had met when she stayed with Puîyus and Éfhelìnye in their trainride throughout the Seven Central Realms, and she had taken some delight in brushing Fhólus’ feathers and waxing his plumage and holding him or her, but the sight of all of these tens of thousands of Traîkhiim was just a little too much and too many for her to see at once, and she was not entirely sure how to judge this entire people from her single example of Fhólus, who had been friendly but a bit scatter brain’d unto her. Puîyus was the only one among the children who had spent any substantial amount of time among the Traîkhiim, he did not find their smell or mannerism to be too disconcerting, he was rather a fan of their khmárnwu warble-yoddling, their throat-singing that they were able to produce deep within their triple gobs and send out eminating throughout frozen hill and torr. He brushed his hands about the wings and feathers of the Traîkhiim, and they cooed at his passing, and he came up unto Éfhelìnye to tell her that they needed to lean soon.
– Alas, this one Aîya Àsya I we now no clan name – chanted Aîya the Traîkhiim. – This one Aîya Àsya is Clanless, tiníngte ecland, woorumullumbuk, Aîya the Child of the Dead. –
– Oh! – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– Children of the Dead cannot claim the birthright of Úkhta or Fhúxha or Álu or Úla or Àqhu – Aîya Àsya chanted.
Princess Ixhúja tugged upon Puîyus’ sleeve and gave him a quizzical look, for she was uncertain as to what Child of the Dead may mean, and wondered whether it were in truth a sign of dishonor, and Puîyus leaned unto her ear and whispered unto her in the purrs of Qtheûnte the Language of Plantimals to tell her, Among the Traîkhiim the Dead can, from time to time, reproduce. Grandfather Pátifhar told me that if the couple were killed before they could become martial spouses and bear Triîmeling, that sometimes in death they could have children; the Traîkhiim are the only people who can reproduce though among the honored Dead.
Ixhúja nodded, for it made perfect sense to her, if a child could be fashioned of bone and flesh and blood in a laboratory and stitched together with clockwork and automata and dreams of many ages, surely the Dead of an alien species could do the same. She was not entirely sure how the Ancestors of the Sweqhàngqu would like that, considering how they had treated her, when Mother Khwofheîlya had found Jhkhaîxhor’s Daughter and considered her to be a child conceived not in love but by eldritch alchemies. Puîyus turned around and was picking up several different Traîkhiim and brushing their feathers and embracing them and remembering the goodness of Fhólus and his people. Both he and Ixhúja were thinking that it would be a little strange for a volk to be able to have children, even though a very few, after death, and were a little thankful that it only occurred among this one peaceful alien people, for it would be difficult for a warrior to fight a people and know that some of the children of a dishonored extinct clan could somehow return from the shades of darkness.
– Perhaps we can find a way for you to become part of the clan that Fhólus is founding – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted. – I do not pretend to know the customs of your people, but if being part of a clan means so much to do, I am sure we can find a way. –
– Oh Empress! Oh light of the Traîkhiim! – Aîya Àsya was gasping. She arose, her shroud wings sprinkling from side to side, flexes of xylem and phloem within it, muscles crackling as many other Traîkhiim were arising also and upwards and swirling about Éfhelìnye just a little. – Questing inquiring having for you – continued the Offspring of the Dead. – Fhólus the my the Fhólus, safe is one question? –
– Fhólus was safe last we saw him – Éfhelìnye chanted. – Puîyus and I were translated away from a vast sky fleet of hot and glass air balloons, and among the lords of the ship were Puîyus’ Family and Grandfather Pátifhar and many allies whom we trust as well as Fhólus our dear friend. –
– Question questioning the Fhólus is he maling or femaling at the moment? – asked Aîya Àsya.
– I believe Fhólus was in the masculine form, the last time Puey and I saw him, although I must confess sometimes I can’t tell the difference. Among the Xhámi lads and lasses look very different, and our dress and manners constantly reïnforce visual distinctions between our twin fhwìpuxeng jànyaqhén, but it is different of course for different species of the Real People, and I do not yet understand all of the subtleties of the mansuete Pèqlor folk. –
– Ah … inquiring questing one I they! – gasped Aîya.
– Oh? – asked Éfhelìnye.
– Question the great and puissant and beautiful and terrible and moonrise eîleni! – gasped the child of the Dead. – Fhólus the Fhólus the my Fhólus has he the form the masculine shape as he the he his the Fhólus his antennæ twitching in love his eyen opening up and gazing with longing as he the he the dance of love with some other Traîkhiim while dead I swam within the smoke white I? –
Puîyus grinned a little to hear the gibbering jibberjabber babel of the Traîkhiim people whose manner of speaking was all their own, and he was glad at least that Princess Éfhelìnye was usually able to interpret them, for it was quite natural for her to understand the speech of tree and hill and flower, the mewment and purrry of feral folk like Puîyus and his twin Ixhúja, and even the clash of storm and the rolling of cloud and the movement of light cælestial. Princess Ixhúja remembered the way that Fhólus had talked and wondered whether dwelling with the Traîkhiim all the time would be beautiful and operatic or whether it would be like being in a great storm of sound and confusion ĥaoso bjYj pem neföm kofu bum-bam nekompreneblaĵo higgledy-piggledy chinpunkanpun de chittomo wakaranai ĝi estas laŭ mi Volapukaĵo.
Princess Éfhelìnye picked up Aîya and brushed her cool feathers, bits of dust and mist still tumbling about her, breaking apart like icicles, and the Princess chanted – No, Fhólus has not met any other young Traîkhiim to sway his gizzard-heart, and I doubt he e'er shall, for he mentions you quite a bit and how happy you make him. For some reason he lickens you to sweet funguses. –
– Fhólus the Fhólus like unto sweet chocolate covered fungoids – Aîya chanted.
Puîyus looked around and was tapping his sword, and all about him he could feel the movement of the Fhàjhati Unicorns returning unto their places, and the last of their canabilistic rending of each other. He gave Éfhelìnye a signal that it was time for them to leave, and as if with a single mind all of the Traîkhiim burst upwards, and all of their wings began to beat with the same accord and arise to hover about their new Empress the one whom the tushed and neuter Qhaôtriim Elders of the people had long prophesied would lead them unto salvation. Puîyus bound upwards and swirled about some of the machinery in the central column, and Éfhelìnye ran up to him and was still carrying Aîya and quod the Princess – Puey, we shall have to take Aîya with us since we’ll be returning to Fhólus and your family, but what shall we do with the rest of the Dead that live once again? They are far too many to for us to take within the Pirate vessel, and certainly far too many for us to tend and for whom we can find food. –
Puîyus looked up and pointed up the length of the column as the Fhàjhati Unicorns began to arise upon the long and winding legs, and slowly they began to slough from side to side and prepare to start ramming and crushing the tnoaqteûpa slaves that had escaped their prisonment within the maze. Puîyus gave Éfhelìnye a glance that meant, We’ll just have to take them all with us. We must leave now. The Monsters return. I shall carry whom I can. Ixhúja, would you like to fight the Unicorns?
Ixhúja grinned and swung her purpurescent sword about in one hand and held up the twisting aurelian sword in her other, and hopping from side to side, was prepared to defend the hordes of Traîkhiim from attack. Several of the walls and columns were already breaking apart, and several tall skulls were arising o'er the edge of the breaking pipes, the skulls turning around and opening up their jaws within jaws within jaws, and they began to snarl and hurl their swords from side to side as they rushed towards the fleeing slaves. Ixhúja ran upwards and struck the first Unicorn in the hoof and another through its leg, and was ululating herself in the glory of the battle.
Puîyus outstretched his arms and gathered unto him all of the Traîkhiim who were too weary to run and fly of their own accord, and so a great rolling cloak of heads and limbs and long shroud wings were flowing out about him, and as he clomb up the side of the machinery he continued to punch and jab at it, and all the while shove aside the walls and towers and make a pathway upwards and higher through the spinning maze. He looked downwards and saw that Éfhelìnye was still holding unto Aîya, and then all around her were arising some of the larger of the Triîm folk, opening up their large and strong wings and swaying from side to side, and they were taking up Éfhelìnye by her arms and flying upwards carrying her high and aloft, and behind them came fluttering upwards the hordes of the Traîkhiim an hundred thousand strong, their feathers a brilliant quetzal wave of colors, their heads spinning from side to side, and they were glistening and warbling and yodeling all the while and intoning unto themselves and singing, Empress Éfhelìnye! Empress Éfhelìnye! Empress Éfhelìnye! Oh oh oh oh oh!
Soon Éfhelìnye found herself arising higher and higher about some of the massive layers of the orrery, and wherever she looked all she could see was the blur of wings rising and falling and the long strouthian necks of the Traîkhiim ducking from side to side and quacking just a little and turning back and blinking their massive eyen, and she that the Traîkhiim were flooding upwards o'er the crennelations of the maze, they were launching themselves up about some of the brilliant and thrawn patterns of swirl and disque, they were becoming a great and living cloud of the Triîm rising higher and higher. Behind her she could hear the sound of the Unicorns as they came crashing through the clockwork, the blue nekiυmva dashing outwards and scraping their hooves against the floor, their triple mouths opening upwards and screaming all the while, their brilliant horns scraping against the sword and horn that Ixhúja was wielding against them all, and the Traîkhiim, not being a warrior people by nature, being an acephalous society without lords or viceroy kings or rulers save for the neuter Elders who governed the clans, were screaming in terror as the Monsters were come among them and were rending all things. All at once Éfhelìnye heard a cry above her, and she knew that Puîyus was yanking up entire walls of the labyrinth and hurling them down unto the Unicorns, he was grabbing the edge of mechanism and wheel and tossing them from side to side and all the while arising higher and higher and bursting out his way through the maze.
– So long so long so long we they were the dead – Aîya was saying as she shivered and whimpered and cooed, and Éfhelìnye squeezed her tight as she would an injured kitten, for the Traîkhiim were one of the few races of Real People small enough for a mortal child to carry, they were perhaps a third or less the hight of a Xhámi child. – For long for long the Qhíng collected out people for the use as slaves for fieldwork and housecarl and for the unending neverending unquenchable burnt sacrifice the fire the smoke the light for to sustain the Suns – Aîya was saying. Éfhelìnye felt her own eyen darkening, for although she tried not to remember the incineratory fields she had beheld at the edge of her Father’s enhallowed City Eilasaîyanor, it still crept at the edge of her nightmares, the memories of fields all of ash, of scaffolding of metal, of heavens all burning, of slaves drawn up and impaled alived and burnt, their living smoke twisting upwards and becoming the halo of the Suns. Éfhelìnye found herself bristling a little even as Aîya was whispering and saying – Gathered up tied up in floral chains we were. Some of the Children of the Nomothete were to be used in the War against the Qlùfhem. You know question that the Aûm Masters have begun enslaving the Traîkhiim again. Some treaty, some words, it is all xhepánga spilt. One cannot see it all, it bleeds, it falls. Aûm and Qhíng pillaging the last generations lost. But others are coming. From the darkness. Old and strange and cold, alien intellects, creatures of dust and dispassion. They came for us, but we saw them not. They were living abstractions of fear. The darkness. They were the Old Masters. They told us they once held these dreamlands before being driven back. Reclaim all realities once theirs. Chaos left in war of Qhíng with Qlùfhem. The Emperor, maldistracted, not watching he! Old Masters take us. Deep the darkness. Deep the sea. Deep the noise. Far, far, far. The Masters were the tqèwe bugbears mörkö bêtes noires bugaboo bogie pwca, they were the Xeriîqe x! x! x! x! They were creatures of masque, of shell, of claw and dust. Never to be seen. Darkness all. Clicks made manifest. The Xeriîqe Masters were experimenting with Monsters, they were dreaming up minimizes and shadows of labyrinths, some ancient invention. We saw horn and hoove. We were taken into dark and clean rooms. The Old Masters began to burn us, to set all of the Traîkhiim into smoke. At the edge of Death, always for ever. Not alive not dead, always for ever. You will serve the labyrinth, always for ever. And the Monsters of bone coral they coming coming coming x! x! x! x! – And at that Aîya began to shiver and click with fear, and there was nothing left for Éfhelìnye to do but embrace Aîya all the tighter, as the Monsters were come all about them, the Unicorns scrambling up the sides of the machinery and digging their deep hooves into the wheels and pulleys and jabbing their thrawn horns from side to side and scattering the Traîkhiim all about.
– Protect the Empress! Protect the Empress! Protect you her they the Empress Empress she her they! – thus the Traîkhiim were crying one to another. Princess Éfhelìnye felt the cry of many voces populi all about her, although with the mass of wings and feathers and necks and faces she was not entirely sure who among them were singing it, or perhaps all of the Traîkhiim enmasse were crying out with a single voice. She did see however, as the Traîkhiim were holding onto her with tight finger-toes and squeazing her arms and their shroud wings bursting out in their own beats and everything was arising about her, that several shards of the federwerkish towers were breaking apart in massive pieces and tumbling downwards, and all at once several golden horns were appearing and jabbing from side to side through the fluttering mass of the Traîkhiim. Suddenly a massive series of skulls burst right up beside her, and the skull was already besplattered with the crushed wings and bodies of Traîkhiim who had flung themselves at it in an attempt to slow its approach untowards the Princess, and the jaws were opening upwards and in the rolling fangs revealing the crushed heads of Traîkhiim and several of the gentle dancing Pèqlor still struggling and grasping as they were being impaled alive. The blue unicorn was reaching from side to side, it was flowing in the midst of the screaming slaves and stomping all the while in its mad rush to reach Princess Éfhelìnye. All at once ten thousand Traîkhiim were screaming the same song, and they were swirling about the unicorn and poking it with their finger-toes and pecking at it with their beaks and fluttering around like little gadflies even though the had no hope at all in stopping the beast and they were all screaming – Save the Empress! Save the Empress! Protect ye divine Éfhelìnye, the Daughter of our Fallen Star! –
Suddenly brilliant beams of light descended. All of the Traîkhiim were like curtains parting and waves crashing about the shore. Puîyus came slipping downwards, and the Traîkhiim came spinning around about him, and all of the Traîkhiim whom he had been carrying and who had been like unto a living mantle of dreams for him drew themselves upwards and found themselves young and refreshed. Puîyus landed upon the highest antlers of the triple skulls and lifting up his arms gave the Traîkhiim a signal which they knew meant, Stay and protect Princess Éfhelìnye! Ye cannot hope to fight this creature.
– Use the Solar Sword the brand the one in your hand-foot the old dying Emperor he the he gave unto you! – Aîya cried out, as the Traîkhiim arose and swarmed about Éfhelìnye and carried up upwards in great loops through the columns of the machinery.
Puîyus nodded in Aîya’s generation direction and drawing out the Eilwiyusàrtyai spun it around and thrust it through the skulls of the Unicorn several times until he was yanking right at the hinges of the jaws and broke it apart. He jumped upwards and slashed through the skulls of several more the blue fhàjhati nekiυmva, and bounding away found that one of the skulls was only slowly breaking apart, and so he yanked at the edge of one of the jaws and gave it a tremendous pull and it ripped apart in bursts of rectangular sinew and square explosions, and he began beating the unicorn to death using its own jawbone, he smashed in all of its skull and trampled its horn until it shattered into powder, and screaming all the louder he arose and smashed the skull through the huge giraffe legs of one passing xhroîpfhe kere and then throughthe limbs of another serou tsopo, until he was breaking right through their insectoid limbs. Then Puîyus came leaping aside and grabbed ahold of the neck of the next tsenafhàjhati and began wrestling it down.
– Use the Monster’s own horn against it golden horn golden sword savikpak collan slacc nsi zEvwyd dilizanz! – gasped Aîya within Éfhelìnye’s arms, as the Traîkhiim arose higher and higher still.
Puîyus bowed in Aîya’s generation direction and sheathed the blazing Eilwiyusàrtyai that the Emperor of flames and light blazing had placed into his hand, and rather he came rolling outwards and grabbed the edge of the antlers and kicked them apart and bounding downwards rolled against the snarling triple layers of spinning fangs and hung against the impaling sword of the Unicorn, and he smashed it right off and shoved it right through the neck of the Monster. There was always something satisfying with using a Monster’s own appendages against it, whether it be the horn of a beast or its own jaw and teeth or just to rip off one of its limbs and beat it to death with it, often Puîyus in the thirling joy of battle, when he was not fighting against men but just animated forces such as Monsters themselves no longer felt the need for elegance swordsplace, but he himself feral ghostly and dæmonic came his own halo-tipped storm, and wrestled them down. He impaled one Unicorn through its own skull, and as the beast screamed out in agony he came sliding about its fangs and grabbing the edge of its antlers he screamed began squeazing as hard as he could, and the skull began tho crack and shiver, and then it burst apart into explosions of dust, and Puîyus thusly crushed the skull with his own bare hands. The Unicorn’s bare neck wavered from side to side for a few moments and then the entire creature came splashing downwards, bones shattering apart. Puîyus was slipping down the body of the Monster, dying and shattering, although being but animated and soulless madness, the Monster was never truly alive in the way that bird and beast and dinosaur and kine and child were. Puîyus impaled another Fhàjhati nekiυmva through several of its legs at once and hurled it down and thrust the sword right through its jaws, and did not even bother to stop to watch its fall, for already he was bounding aside higher and higher and thrusting the golden sword through the jaws of another and through the neck of a second and through the twining insectoid legs of the third, and screaming all the while he hurled them down and stomped upon the crashing horns and bellowed a deep and rumbling cry that sounded a little like a Dragons in their ærial song.
– Protect the Empress! Protect the Empress! Protect you her they the Empress Empress she her they! – screamed Aîya Àsya the Child of the Dead, as the Traîkhiim were arising higher and higher and higher still in great and billowing clouds, and Éfhelìnye was arisen right in the midst. Puîyus came swirling aside, he turned and saw that throughout the crashing layers or the labyrinth that Princess Ixhúja was a blur, that she was leaping up high and thrusting sword and horn through the Fhàjhati nekiυmva and hurling them down, and yet she was a bit more measured and classical and elegant in her attack, she was swirling about them and slicing through their bodies, and leaving them in recognizable heaps gestrewned all about her, but Puîyus was just aroaring now, he hurled aside the golden horn he had taken and impaled a blue xhroîpfhe with it and decided rather to start smashing apart the unicorns with his bare hands, for although Monsters were dreadful creatures and most of them just worthy of being slain, these Fhàjhati Xhròpfhe were bothering him on some primal level tickling right at the cockles of his heart, perhaps it had something to do with the flowing rectangles and squares that were making up their scales and feathers, perhaps their looping drool which had fallen upon him, or maybe that these ankylotic and angled bone creatures preyed upon children and priests, or maybe it was just the vast horror of this weird clockwork maze sunk down deep within the ocean and populated by those who had once been almost among the honored Dead, but whatever the reason Puîyus was now just screaming and this time when he rushed towards the Unicorns, weaponless he, his swords in their places, his knives in their scabbards, his hands clenching against the air, the Unicorns for the first time in their existence felt fear. Puîyus screamed and fell upon them. He the bane of the Unicorns. He picked up on by the hoof and smashed it against the other with such force that all of its bones were smashed into powder. He grabbed one Unicorn by the horn and holding it above his head impaled the entire monster through the jaws of the next. The Unicorns were screaming with the voices of nasel flutes, and Puîyus was rushing among them, he grabbed the horns of a couple of Unicorns and just snapped them into powder with his bare hands. He came leaping upwards higher into the air and kicked through the skulls of several Unicorns and spinning around watched as the rest of the Monsters hesitated. Suddenly three Fhàjhati unicorns were rushing right up towards him, and bursting up from their triple jaws came most and smoke, and these unicorns three were so eager to rush unto the warrior lad Xhluntakhlaûselar that they dashed upwards and were crushing their brethren down, horns and bone and coral crashing together, and Puîyus spun around and screamed all the louder and was beating the Unicorns down and ripping apart all of their bodies and leaving but waves of dust to flow about him in the gathering horror of the maze dark.
And then suddenly all of the labyrinth was shaking, the walls and wheels and gears of it breaking apart, entire sections of the maze were crashing downwards, and in the tumbling of the walls Puîyus could see some of the vast and spindly outlines of the entire skerry reef wreathing outwards and covering all of the remants of this once mighty Xeriîqe laboratory, and in the crashing of the walls and the spinning of the wheels, the machinery all lighting upwards, was popping and sfericing and exploding one by one by one. Puîyus came bounding outwards, in the descending gears and the crashing archways, in the destruction of all the xòthwin labyrinth bjYjdan he could see that all of the chasms were gaping upwards like so many skeletal jaws, and now the Unicorns were thundering outwards in massing hordes far larger than he had seen before, and the Unicorns were arising as tempestuous bone-froth, and in the stomping of their hooves and the screaming of their fifes, they were arisen for to destroy the Traîkhiim slaves and impale them utterly and prison them in worlds of suffering until the chiliastic end of the age. At once Puîyus came bounding outwards, he screamed outwards towards Ixhúja, and she scattered several more blue Unicorns before her gaze and spinning around saw what it was of which Puîyus was warning her. Ixhúja understood and was in no humor to start a new argument, she could see in the twinkle of Puîyus’ winedark eyen that he had a plan, although she may grumble unto herself from time to time, she knew that sometimes his battle plans were far more cool and dispassionate and rational than the ones she concocted in the joy of battle. She came spinning aside to join him, even as the columns were spilling downwards one by one, and waves of Unicorns were arising for to trample and impale the children for all time. Puîyus picked up Ixhúja, they were both smeared with dust and bone, and flakes of Traîkhiim skin and xhepánga, for the Unicorns had managed to slay many of the gentle Pèqlor dancers, and flays of their bodies had fallen unto the Warrior Children in their struggles against the qílínry, and some drool and coral came tumbling about their hair, but Puîyus and Ixhúja did not mind it but rather were come leaping upwards unto the central mechanisms. Puîyus lifted up his arms and crying out unto the Traîkhiim sang unto them in a deep and rumbling dragonish voice and told them remain a swarm and surge upwards rushent and we shall survive the storm of Monsters beneath us. Puîyus and Ixhúja for their part, natheless, were the only ones left within the Labyrinth as the Monsters were come, and Ixhúja was noticing, in the thundering hooves and the approach of the Unicorns, that Puîyus was being left behind before the Monsters, and Ixhúja by extension, since he was holding onto her. For half an heartbeat Ixhúja worried at this, for at any moment now the jacinth Unicorns would be upon them to trample and impale them both. But she rested, she knew that sometimes she just had to trust Puîyus, and sometimes his ways, his plans, his thoughts and dreams were not her ways or plays or dreams or thoughts at all, but something even alien unto her mind. The vast blue Fhàjhati Xhròpfhe were almost upon the Children, and the Traîkhiim in their flying swarm were many yards above them, along with Princess Éfhelìnye whom the Triîm were protecting in the midst of their bodies and wings aflutterent, and the Unicorns were almost upon Puîyus and Ixhúja, the Unicorns were screaming with their massive jaws and skulls, their headless bodies swinging from side to side, their horns golden and horrid jabbing from side to side in strange scorpionsome twitches, their long legs spinning, their hooves striking against the other, and the Unicorns were all striking against each other even as they rushed towards the Children and longed for to destroy them. Puîyus smiled, his smile was bright that even thought at first she was looking in the opposite direction, the golden white light of his smile glistened and glowgrew gleeful glad.
Ixhúja turned around, the last Siineqhimpíya Martian Princess, and seeing that the Unicorns were just about to crush and impaled them both, all she could do was see just how happy Puîyus was smiling. The clockwork moths and locusts and dragonflies dwelling in her golden tresses quailed and burrowed themselves back inside her locks, and even glistring Qìfhte the Dragonfly piv piv blinked with his phasing compound eyen and squeaked and ducked back within. Ixhúja shook her head and purred unto Puîyus to say, You do know how crazy you are, don’t you? You are absolutely insane! Even I would not stand here, still and calm and smiling in a crashing labyrinth as the Monsters came for me.
Puîyus gave Ixhúja a smile which meant, This is the part where our Song waxes unto a wonderous chorus, this is when everyone in the meodoheall stands up to cheer, when all of the tide turns.
You are completely, absolutely, and unquestionably mad, Ixhúja purred unto him. I hope you do survive and you and Cousin Éfha have lots of equally insane children, all of you can grow mad together. I hope you become the new Emperor, we need someone who can do the unexpected and completely crazy from time to time.
One does not aspire unto the Crystalline Crown, Puîyus smiled unto her. One just is honored to fight Monsters and save Princesses, and eat the occasional fresh muffin and pie off of the windowsill.

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