Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Something Vast and Parlous and Lunar

Puîyus Íngìkhmar’s Son, the only Son of the Holy Rose Knight, spun around, and his dreamcape was a ripple of orange and white and red rippling in sanguine patterns. All at once he realized that they were only just a few moments away from complete disaster, that he was the butterfly caught in web of a very ancient and intricate design, the strands of it set down by cunning hands and placed down almost invisible among the fang crags of the whispering mountains. His heart was thundering within him, and he could hear that percussion reflected not just the music of his heart but was also becoming the pulse of all of the clouds and the movement of light as it refracted out of the exploding cloud banks, his heartbeat was becoming the sigh of shards of light arising from behind the crags and dolmens of the whispering mountains as eleven Moons arose and aligned themselves in such a way that they were all eclipsing themselves and casting all of the heavens into darkness before a troubled sky, his heart was becoming the fluttering of the wings of this ship and the spinning of the gears about the steering helm, he could even hear with his kean and præternatural senses that the wheels that were spinning within the columns and motors of the vessel were all at spinning at the very same rhythm, and he breathed a few times, and all of the ship trembled a little, expanding and tracting as he inhaled and ex. The flowing gnoma of the motor were all turning around and pointing unto midnight and unto the Moons, all of the sundials were ticking and were slowing down a little as the Qlùfhem vessel drifted outwards towards the flowing light of the vast and turning moons, the vales and púqa craters and sòfhwe caldera and khmìsoro astroblemes slowly spinning outwards and making ready to envelope the vessel in the growing quag and darkness.
At once Puîyus turned back. He looked to Éfhelìnye and blinked a few times, and she swayed back and forth, dizzy and chanted – Puey says that we must change course at once. –
– Whither? – asked Fhèrkifher as he bounced up upon some ropes and began opening up the glistening gold solar sails.
– The Wrack of Syapàkhya is not a very hospitable place – Xhnófho chanted. – Once the most perfect Qhóng conquereered much of this coastland, but it was not a good place of colonialization. This was long, long ago, back when Jaràqtu was populous and wealthy in arms and clans and sons, long ago when the Qhíng were strengthening their triple viceroy kingdoms and seeking alliances with many dreamlands. But now ruins are left here, and surely not unto any of these ántor these lost cities you desire to go. –
Puîyus shook his head and made a few soft and quiet sounds.
– We’re … we’re going to try to activate the aumàfhruse again – Éfhelìnye chanted. – We must hurry. We are already out of time. –
– I’ll set course for us to leave this reality, if we can – Fhèrkifher chanted.
– If you can get the Aûman engine to live again, I can fly us wherever you need to go – chanted Xhnófho as he slipped back up unto the helm. – We’ll be pebbles skipping upon the liminal face of realities. –
Puîyus came to Éfhelìnye and took her hand and patted it a few times just to make sure she was felling fine, and his look told her that he would leave and try to awaken the feircesome machine while she stayed on deck to rest. The clouds were gathering looping upwards from the face of the hundred eclipses. Puîyus felt the tick tock tick tock tick of all of the twining sundials within the engines, the same sound of xhiqtákem xhiqtákem xhiqtákem which associated he with federwerk, the same tikitön song that so many of the children of the Winter Empire feared, the sundials and his heart singing in unison, and he dashed outwards upon the deck and found Ixhúja and Aîya chasing each other about and sometimes catching the other and biting a few times. Puîyus slipped up to them, and Ixhúja laughed a few times and drew out part of a doughnut from her pocket and began gobbling it up before his face, and giving him a wry look blinked a few times as if to say, I’m terrible sorry, my sweatheart, my dearest Twin Puîyos, but your pirate Uncle Servants brought doughnuts for us for breakfast, but Éfha and I managed to eat them all. She wiped sugar from her cheek and licked her lips a few times.
Puîyus bowed to Ixhúja and mewed a few times in a feline and pulsating language that contained a few tick tock ticks of its own and told her, Please aid me in awakening this Aûm engine. We need to escape. We are in a trap.
Ixhúja drew out another doughnut from her pocket and stuffed the entire pastry in her mouth, and gobbling it up in puffs of sugars blinked as if to tell him, If you need my help, you have it. Ixhúja licked her fingers a few times and then winked at Puîyus as if to say, Anything for Éfhelìnye of course, for I assume you wish to escape to save her?
Puîyus spun around and came bouncing right towards the great nerves and wheels of the helm and did not actually respond to the last question, his thoughts were racing about and already imagining Dragons appearing within the darkness and the eclipse, his heart was no longer even beating, it was a clockwork murmur, and all the while he kept thinking about pieces upon the tnúpa board and whether he should have been able to have forseen this nascent trap. He came clammering about the twisting scales of the xermoâthe, and there Xhnófho the Warrior trained by the stern tentacle of Great-Uncle Kàrnaka himself was prying aside the casement and helping the children within into the khètroro nerve cluster, and Puîyus and Ixhúja slipped down, and little Aîya came fluttering right up beside them. Puîyus turned aside and saw that Ixhúja was gobbling up another doughnut, and although Aîya kept poking her heads towards her and kept slipping her hand-feet into the Martian Princess’ pockets, every few moments Ixhúja just turned to growl at her and slap Aîya about and bare her teeth at her.
Puîyus rolled out before the monstrous steam engines of the vessel and the twisting of the wheels and the growing xylem and phloem of pipes, and the heat enimating from it as it breathed heat and fire was very great, and he wiped his brow a few times. He looked back to Ixhúja, and saw that she was snarling and chasing after Aîya a few times, and Puîyus looked unto his feral Twin and mewed a few times to say, Did the pirates indeed have doughnuts for breakfast?
Yes indeed, purred Ixhúja in response, as she smacked her lips and took a few greedy bites. We didn’t have enough saved for you. Would you like the edge that I’m chewing? She held up a partially crushed and licked portion of her crumbling krepfelin, nimbus clouds of sugar flowing out from it.
One still desireth to keep one’s fast, Puîyus chanted as the coiling enormity of the engine began to crawl right out towards them, and he drew his hands closer to the webs of experimental machines which the Aûm had with cunning tendril crafted, and the heat was wavering a little and made him draw back a moment.
Ah, still sad because of Fhermáta, Ixhúja purred as she licked her fingers. Rumor in the family has it that Fhermáta could bake some rather nice doughnuts, Ixhúja murmured in a lazy feline language as she drew another scraphinz from her pocket.
It was true, she was perfect at all manner of baking, Puîyus answered in a similar although less languid language, as he drew his hands into the wavering heat convections and spun the wheels around and began to wind up the mainsprings. One almost has no desire to taste any other manner of doughnut or baking at all, Puîyus’ feline language was telling her, for one already knows that such food will never compare to the khyàjhwu magiriξ of Fhermáta.
Ixhúja dusted off her hands and began crawling about the towers of the steam engines and poked around at the growing Aûm machines, and her little clockwork devices crawled about within her tresses and peered out with large and widening compound eyen, and a few of the devices leaned against each other and began whispering and clicking, and some were pointing unto the growing vines and frost that were part of the Aûm experimentation.
And to think, my forelorn and foolish Twin, you’re willing to withstand the baking of my Cousin Éfhelìnye, perhaps the very worst cucina in all the worlds. Ixhúja jumped up unto some of the unwinding spirals of the motors and saw that the disques were all turning around and revealing images of the Moons vast majestic and cold aligning themselves between mountain and shore, and the disques of the machinery were forming their own similar conjuction. Thou art far braver than I could e'er hope to be, Ixhúja continued in the same caipist language, to withstand and taste all of Éfha’s experimentations.
Puîyus touched a few of the handles of the machinery and burnt himself as he reached for the great and growing sundials that were part of the strange Aumàfhruse, and by now the phials of glass were filling up with bubbles and plasma, and several different water wheels of the device were spinning around, and the mirrors of the machine were all blinking open dilating bright and reflecting moon and eclipse and darkness all about, and as long and winding biomechanical tendrils reached outwards for to wrap themselves about him and draw him upwards, Puîyus was beginning to feel more and more uncertain of the possibilities of getting this strange and monstrous machine to work within the next couple of moments.
Princess Ixhúja ducked her head out of a pipe, a smear of oil was upon her face, and in one hand she was holding a small qlupetòkhqi Schraubenschlüßel, and crawling out of the edge of the tubes came several of her clockweyth locusts looking from side to side and tightening up wheels and aligning pipes with their claws. Ixhúja purred at Puîyus and speaking in a strange and echoing feline tounge told him, You missed the puppets and the puppet show.
Puîyus kicked away the tentacles that held him and slipped upwards unto the growing thrawn engines of the Aumàfhruse, and spinning around mewed at Ixhúja to ask, Were there really puppets, was there a puppet show indeed?
Ixhúja kicked up the qlupetòkhqi wrench key and opened up a few of the phials and examined the bubbling liquids indeed. Oh yes, and it was quite spectacular, I had no idea that those pirates twain were such great janyaswáxe puppeteers, very talented indeed. It was perhaps the best engastrimythic show I have seen in the last few years, if not mine entire life. You should have been there, the puppets were dancing into life.
Puîyus reached out to the sundials and burnt his hand, and as he turned he smacked his head against the gaping jaw of a pipe, and ignoring the heat and the throbbing pain and glanced unto Ixhúja with longing eyen and mewed as if to say, Was the show really so marvelous?
Greater than I can describe, but I would not wish to spoil it for you. Oh, the puppets were magic come to life, they were the very alchemy of imagination.
Puîyus turned back and in the turning of the tentacles and the opening of the engine smacked the back of his neck against some spinning wheels. He growled a little, and bouncing up upon the surface of the wheel arose unto the very heart of the glistening engines of aumàfhruse, and glancing back and blinking his large winedark eyen asked her, Do you think the famous and illustrious pirates were perform a show for me then?
I don’t know, you slept through the first one, rather rude if one were to ask me, plus I’m sure it all depends on how good you’ve been, so Ixhúja was purring in Qtheûnte the language of beasts, and bounding upwards she landed unto where the experimental tubes and grafts and growth of the aumàfhruse arose, and she whistled a few times in disbelief. Anyway, today is both my and your Starday, and if you’ve been very good I’m sure the pirates will put on a puppet show for you and share the booty. What type of sampo engine in this? Ixhúja fell upon her hands and knees and crawled unto the place where all of the mirrors were arising, they were like so many flowers springing upwards upon the zavannah, they were twisting upon enigmatic spirals and turning around and all of the mirrorblooms were focusing their dayseyes right unto the center where shafts of light were appearing, and vague images of Moons and Eclipse and Moons folding themselves up into origamic patterns were appearing. Puîyus crawled up after her and sighed a little and remembered that this day had also been Fhermáta’s Starday, but now that she was counted among the honored Ancestors, the gifts that she was destined to receive would be incense and prayer and filial piety and the devotion of her living Clan.
Puîyus and Ixhúja arose together and beheld the splendor of the Aumàfhruse, the emergent art, the spectral technology, the wakrubaya fractalization of stories and worlds, that which the Aûm had been created beyond the orders of the holy and apostolic Synod of Lords, that which the Aûm in silent darkness had been crafting away from enhallowed Eilasaîyanor, that which the Aûm had been fashioning from the Nightmares of an insane Emperor. The actual material manifestation of this engine the children could not quite see, but they could see that very center of it were sleeping imagines of the folding and fractaling and bursting of light and energy. Ixhúja gulped a few times, and watched as flowing origami came drifting out in pipes from this machine and fed into the steam engines of this experimental ship. She cleared her throat, and spinning right back unto her came her clockwork creatures, the crawling locusts and moths and dragonflies of metal and glass and wheel that dwelt within her hair and upon her person and rested upon the loops of her girdle, and all of her pwànkhafha thralls shook in fear.
Puîyos, Ixhúja began in the language of wild beasts.
Yes, my Twin? Puîyus answered in kind.
I think I understand how this art functions. I think I understand why it has stopped. I think I know why Éfha was able to figure it out, although but a little.
We need to leave. Can you awaken it?
One can summarize this device as follows, Ixhúja turned to Puîyus and blinked a few times and told him, The Aûm are completely insane.
Ixhúja can you …
You don’t understand. Éfha wouldn’t understand either. The Aûm … they’re trying to blend everything in that engine. Outside like wheels and steam and pump. To one side lie growth and vegetable and seed. Look, inside the flowing fractals, it’s like the Aûm are distilling liquid death and pouring it upon time. Puîyos, I don’t think you realize just how dangerous this device is.
We have to leave. Can you activate it?
Get Éfha. I can’t. The device is like a living mirror, you gaze into it, realities multiply, you fall into one reality and all of the rest of them spin around and get folded back upon the original reality. This is all rather strange.
We must try.
Puîyos, I do not jest. The Aûm who made this were not mad as in inspired by art and beauty, they were not mad as in love with a maiden, they were completely without regard to their flesh and mind and souls. They’re trapping or ripping or folding or doing something they are not supposed to do. I don’t know what to do.
Éfhelìnye showed me how to begin the song of the motors. You can help me do that, and then we can flee the …
Do you trust these Aûm? What type of allies have they been? Ixhúja drew out several pyiî tongs from her belt and drew them into the spinning and folding of the light, and the ĉirkaŭpreniloj themselves began to transform as they entered the burning of the light, the pinĉiloj began to twist and boil, the outer metal itself hissing away and leaving behind bits of bone, the matter itself was becoming dust and light and flowing fractals susurrating away, and yet what was strangest unto the children was that the tong itself was not breaking apart and becoming several hundred different ones, and some of the schirzima were becoming branches and roots and trees and others were becoming metal and shard and cliff and strand, and some of the miska were fishpoles and columns and mechanical arms, and all of them were arising and folding about and breaking apart into brilliant crystalline patterns. Ixhúja took a few steps back and regarding Puîyus blinked and spoke in the natural language saying, The Children of Jaràqtu have always been strong and independent and fierce, and one should expect no less from the Sons of Khiêro, in fact the Children of Khnìntha, the Daughters of Khiêro have long admired the rest of their lost kin. I realize that the elders of your land needed the help of the Aûm to drive the Qhíng out of your heavens and from the plantations that they were occupying, but judging from the twisting of art and worlds and stories within, I do not think that the Aûm are a trustworthy people.
Jeûr and her phatry were very hospitable to me and the Princess Éfhelìnye, Puîyus told her.
Ixhúja hissed and added, Please stop thinking about my Cousin for a moment. Whether or not a Qlùfhim maiden and her family were friendly to you has nothing to do with this mishmash of machinery in here. I understand the clockwork parts to it. What do you want me to do?
Awaken thou the Aumàfhruse! We must translate ourselves at once. I do not wish Éfhelìnye down in here, she is growing weak, kùmpi stigmata bleeding upon her hands. Anywhere anywhen anywhy we must go. And at this Puîyus was tapping upon all of the coins and beating them all unto the same music, and Ixhúja found herself flying about the pipes and adjusting all of the mirrors and doing her best to get the flow of the pipes all ajoint, and the clockwork portions of the machinery to humm in a proper rhythm. Already the vessel was beginning to quake, already vast spumes of light were shooting upwards out of the machine and throughout all of the steam engines, and bursting outwards in the shafts of shadow were growing larger and sharper and far more dangerous the flowing craters and haloes of the Moons drawing themselves up and towards them all.
All at once the engine was screaming and transforming itself, all at once the walls of the nerve cluster were breaking apart and become flow of feathers, and rustling behind them were great stalks of reeds that were growing right out of metal and crystals. Strange and cold was all of the machinery changing, the growing rustling vegetable portions of it were bursting out with shards of icicles, and the spinning wheels of the sundials were falling upon their sides and blinking a little, and breathing out from the light were strange pandimensional geometries which the children could not quite comprehend. The reeds and glass were breaking away from them, and Ixhúja, when she was finally able to draw some of the spinning cogs back into place and wind the springs back to their normal habits, could see that great pools of liquid glass were formulating within the spinning of the wheels and bleeding up from them were places and memories and time somehow all folding about each other in fell origamic patterns. Ixhúja leaned upwards and could not quite recognize any of these places, and hearing the soft pitter patter pat pat pit of hand-feet beside her turned and saw that Aîya was crawling right up to her and leaning out with her long and serpentine necks and gasping as worlds of metal and light and fluidic energy were appearing.
– Places where the Aûm Mastors visited have question? – asked Aîya. – Or at least the Aûm masters that crafted sailed experimented this ship, no? Don’t seem like any places I know. Do they know the little pier by our farm? Nice pier. Pretty hills. Don’t see it nowhere. –
Puîyus pointed, for he thought he could recognize some of the continental living ships and flying saucers in the vast runagate fleets of the Qlùfhem and Thùlwu, and sometimes in the flickering of light and the growing shadows he saw worlds and hills and moons half glimpsed by his waking mind and halfguessed by his souls in sleep, strange and cragged whispering mountains arising before him, and cities in the shape of bones and skulls, glistening eerie heavens all of bleeding red, and dreamlands of green and gold and tall marching figures of irregular gate whose movement corresponded to no living creature he had e'er seen before. Splashing before his eyen he saw several vast turning and crystalline worlds the great fractal khmèmleket which the Qlùfhem were wont to build and even give as presents unto the most beneficient Emperor, and Puîyus saw brilliant towers and ringed moons and cities builded upon torquations and the shimmering outline of a vast and glistening world which he thought had to be Thùlwujoir the new Thùlwu homeworld at least before the Qhíng had destroy’d it and razed it to embers, and then Puîyus saw glistening of living ships arising and spinning cadlongs and brilliant glass and hot air balloons swaying upwards upon the very tips of the winds, and the swaying of the ruins in forbidden Jhètrukh and the candy cane wolds of the Holy City Solúma and the long and winding white icewalls that were the very edge of Winter, and Puîyus could see all of the great fleet of Xìngqo’ Oantheyùlkha the Oânthe Union, and his mind sparkled to think that there his Father and Sisters had so recently been. He jabbed his hands a few times in that direction, and Ixhúja drew her hands through the living energies and the wheels spinning within and tried to keep those imagines alive and burbling up untowards them.
I’ll see whether we can translate there, then, Ixhúja turned to Puîyus to murmur. I am not quite sure how time works in this, the clockwork here is all inside out and backwards, it’s like a living creature with internal organs on the outside, and metal within to protect itself from the dreams burbling upwards.
The mirrors were opening upwards, and hanging above them were come the Moons, and Puîyus could see in the eclipse that was opening up all about them all qunáxenu that already it was too late, already the trap had been sprung. I’ll get Princess Éfhelìnye, Puîyus murmured in Qtheûnte the tounge of beast and flower and dinosaur and plantimal. Maybe she can find a way to skip us right towards the fleet, Puîyus murmured.
I’ve awakened the motors of this forbidden and insane oneiromachinery, Ixhúja was saying as all of the wheels and shafts of energy and light were become the flow of crystals and fractals about them, but she added, Now whether we shall be able to go anywhywhere, one cannot guess.
– You afraid something really big terrible the bad going to happen unto us all? – asked Aîya. – Something falling out of the skies? –
Puîyus crossed his arms and blinked, for he was the Son of Sieur Íngìkhmar the Holy Rose Knight and was completely uncapable of fear, the scion of ten thousand generations of warrior, and yet he lifted up an hand and pointed to the twisting of the eclipse and the darkness pouring out from it, and whispered a long and winding cry that sounded like nothing else than the cry of a Dragon swooping downwards from the lunarscapes. Aîya’s three heads spun upwards, and Ixhúja looked up from her adjusting of the machinery, and all of the Aumàfhruse was singing now a song born from the rhythm of Puîyus’ heartbeat and the beating of long and massive and merciless wings.
Dragons! Squealed Ixhúja, and clapped her hands together a little and sighed in wonder at the balletic swirl of one. I love Dragons, they’re the most marvelous of creatures, beautiful and musical and strong and glowing. She tapped a few of the motors about her, and the ship lurched a little, and Puîyus could feel that they were skipping froward league by league by league, but they were not translating out of this reality like they had to. Alas, if it is our fate to die this day by drakeclaw and dragonbreath, at least we go knowing that we watched a most spectacular puppet show, a moment of pure joy before passing into the coldness of … Ve! Oh sorry, Puîyos, I forgot that you missed the show. It was wonderful beyond description.
Puîyus hung his head in shame.
– Anyone mentioning all the midgets that we just saw? – cried Aîya. – Chasing me around, those micromorphs those runtlings! –
And at least we die knowing that we got to eat some really delicious doughnuts before we … oh, sorry again, Puîyos, Ixhúja shrugged. Aîya slipped one of her heads into Ixhúja’s pocket and drew out the portion of a doughnut and tried to escape and gobble it at the same time, but Ixhúja caught Aîya’s neck with hands like crimson steel and choked the doughnut right out of her and gobbled it up. As I was saying, at least some of us got to experience these most blissful of doughnuts. Ixhúja smacked the side of the spinning clockwork, and the engines were all speeding upwards, and all of the nerve cluster of the ship drifting apart and breaking away and preparing to translate.
– Anyone else notice the Dragon following us? – asked Aîya.
Puîyus bowed to Ixhúja and Aîya and told them in the purrs and mews and squacks of the tounge of plantimals telling them, We have been drawn into a most dragonish trap, surrounded and left defenseless save by the strength of our hands. If we can xhnùru, if we can teleport away, we may have a chance. He drew the blazing sword of plasma and light, the sword of solar flairs and irrational numbers, the brand that the Emperor had set within his hands, and he added, It has been an honor to know you both. This midnight is a good time to die. And he spun out from the nerve cluster, his ropes rustle of splanchnic and blood patterns.
Ixhúja looked back at Puîyus’ leaving and wondered whether she should go out to follow him, but she knew that it would be best if she could find a way for them to slip among the planes, and although Éfhelìnye had some brilliant intuitive guesses about these machines, Ixhúja had some training among them. She pulled upon a few of the levers even as all of the vessel disintergrated into dust and light, and Aîya bounced up about her and cried out – Anyone understanding what the Emperor saying when meow meow meow he all the while and drawing his tushed sword and being all melancholy and serious? Sound like some cats spit fighting all the while. –
Ixhúja punched one of Aîya’s heads, and the entire Qlùfhem vessel burst apart into fractals and disappeared in origamic splendor.

And then in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, several hundred leagues away, but in the same heavens, beneath the same eclipsing moons, in the gathering darkness, in splashes of outwhorling fractals, the Qlùfhem vessel reassembled itself, and Puîyus came rolling out unto the deck, his blazing sword in one hand, and in the ticktock thunder of his heart he knew that he was already too light. The ship was veering right towards the turn of the Moons. Clouds were lapping up the side of the vessel, the clouds becoming long and twisting tentacles drifting upwards from side to side, they were like a vast and growing marsh, fen clouds and the ship was bursting upwards in a great mollass of obnubilating nebulous darkness engendered from the turning and darkness of the Moons. For some reason the swaying of the clouds and the explosions of mist and light crashing against the deck and spirals of this experimental vessel were reminding him of the dangerous swamps that snaked through the noman’s dreamlands deep in Jaràqtu among the ancestrial plantations of the warrior clans, and he was reminded of whenever he and his Sisters used to travel among them and explore and walk about the falling trees and the bursting bubbles and the flow of light, and he thought about the forbidden dreamlands that were zones where once great battles had been fought, and children were not permitted to venture there, but all of the bodies and weapons and booty were left untouched for all time to rot as an endless memorial, and he thought about the dangerous forests beyond where sometimes Akhlísa would run away and hide herself, and the sacred and most parlous Blight where the Sqeqlathèrplait dwelt, strange creatures with too many floating heads and too weak and long legs and limbs, so that they always seemed to be dancing about on strings pulled by some unseen and mad ventriloquist. Puîyus came skipping right out upon the deck and saw that the clouds were arising about him in a similar and sickly pattern, drip drifting from side to side, the clouds flowing upwards reaching and grasping and wet and sticky and searching for him all the while.
A few golden flowers were falling in the winds. Puîyus ran froward and caught them in his palms, the golden petals spinning about him, and he forgot for a moment that surely this could not be, for the Emperor had already made all flowers extinct, and yet these petals were wet and newly grown, and these were the shining and aurulent karuláta flowers rare and precious such as dwelt within the romantic dreamlands of Jaràqtu, and he drew the flowers to his nostrils and drank of the perfumed sweetness, and the flowers fluttered about him and became the vague outline of a face and a rustling veil before the eyen and long streams of hair that were the karuláta blossoms twining and lost within the winds.
– Oh Puey my love, my sweet, I did not mean for any of this to happen – came Akhlísa’s voice flowing and wavering in the air. Puîyus spun around, the flowers were reforming her face a few times and then drifting away, as deeper and hotter blasts of wind came unto them. – They were able to look into mine eyen, they were able to drink up my memories, and qàtlhem qlaêkh poltroon that I am caitiff temipik, I could not stop them. I’m so sorry, my sweet, my love. Please forgive me, oh Puey mine all. –
Puîyus spun around and the karuláta flowers blasted away in the flame winds that were drifting out from the Moons. He found himself running as Akhlísa’s voice faded away from him, he was not sure why he was imagining her now but thought that it had to be a property of the dangerous dreammachines that the Aûm had been building as weapons to use against the Qhíng and reshape reality about them. All about him Puîyus could still feel the ticking of his heart and the machine, but the ticking was almost finished, the song almost complete. It was time. And that time was now. He came diving upwards, as all of the ship was shimmering and humming and brilliant fountains of plasmatic cloud were crashing up unto all sides. He came spinning upwards high through the air, the hooks and hills and craters of the moon glistening before his ken. All about him the clouds were arisen twinkling in the golden light of summer, and this reminded him of his Sister Akhlísa again, who had been born even on midsummer’s day and was as cheerful and bright as that season, but the golden clouds flowing out from the darkn moons were winter clouds, huge winged shapes appearing within them and snow was crackling outf from them and spilling upon the deck.
– Something is drawing us in! – cried Fhèrkifher as he unfurled several more solar sails. – The pull of the lunar eclipse is a mælstrom sucking us in! –
– We enter the shaft of golden light! – cried Xhnófho as he wrestled with the rudder – the place where North begins! –
All about him Puîyus could feel the beating of huge wings wherein storm was being generated. No longer did the machinery of the clockwork beat, no longer did his heart pulse, the music was finished, and they were come right into the trap that the Dragons had laid for them all. Puîyus came sliding right down the edge of the deck, frost and golden petals erupting about his wooden sabot and he landed right untowards Princess Éfhelìnye and bowed unto her. She was leaning against the railing and shaking a little, she was rubbing her forehead and swaying a little. Behind her in the bursts of cloud Puîyus could see the huge outlies of Dragons appearing, their eyen brilliant lanthorns erupting with volcanic spume. Puîyus took Éfhelìnye by her hands and could feel that her wrists were dripping with blood, the blood was running down the pure white of her sleeves and trickling down the side of her body.
– Mew? – Puîyus asked her as he squeezed her hands. He reached unto her pocket to draw out a kerchief to style the bleeding. All of the ship was shaking. A few more Moons turned around to hide themselves within the growing eclipse darkness, and Puîyus saw that the Dragons were descending from the Moons like so many flittermice ahooling out from their caves.
– No, it does not hurt, or at least not too terribly – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted although she shook a little, and when Puîyus set the handkerchiefs about her wrists, the bleeding still continued. – Oh, Puey, I wish you had been there – chanted Éfhelìnye, as she was swaying weak from side to side. – The puppets were like unto marvelous and living creatures, mirabile visu, life was breathing out from them, their every movement delight and whimsy. I laughed so hard that my sides hurt. Sometimes I wish that we could spend more time with things lovely and beautiful and good, if we could just set our minds upon them, then we would be able to find the lost gates of Paradise. –
– Mew mew mew – Puîyus told her as he tied the kerchiefs about her wrists as best he could, but the bleeding continued and he had to be especially careful with her, for she was after all anofhyelínge, a royal hæmophiliac like many members of the exaulted and holy Pwéru, and he told her to rest and not concern herself with anything at all.
The Qlùfhem ship cried and sputtered a few times, it sparkled into fractals as it translated forwards a few more leagues, and Puîyus was thankful that Ixhúja was able to control the translation mechanics if even for a few leagues, for that at least granted them all a few more moments of peace before the dragonfall.
– I know the Ancients tended to equate tragedy and comedy as proper forms of story – Éfhelìnye continued and swayed a little – but sometimes I find comedy to be far more difficult to write, and deeper a little. Like those puppets. Wee little puppets. –
Puîyus looked upwards. Éfhelìnye stumbled into his arms. He held up the Emperor’s Sword and from it rolled out waves and ripples and light of living plasma, for flowing before them all came silvery black wings beating and clouds parting and Dragons turning and exaulting in finally finding the prey that Emperor Kàrijoi had bade them to find.
Éfhelìnye’s eyen cleared a little as she leaned next to Puîyus and seeing the wings and outline and shimmering storms of the Dragons she whispered – Puey? –
– ?? –
– Maybe we should take our chances with the forehungered Traîkhiim and blue unicorns or even the Xakhpàlqe hosts. –
– … – chanted Puîyus, and he held up his sword before the moon clouds everparting.

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