The Monsters were upon them. Puîyus continued to smile. He held unto Ixhúja all the tighter. Ixhúja decided to trust him and squeazed him all the tighter, for this was one of the few times when she did not mind being held. The maze shattered. The Unicorns roared. Puîyus blinked his eyen and whispered a silent prayer unto the Ancestors and hoped that the Immortals would have mercy upon him and Ixhúja, and by the time he finished his blink his plan had already happened. For Puîyus was in the habit of moving faster than one can blink, even faster than he himself was capable of blinking Augenblick.
In a moment, in less than the twinkling of an eye, Puîyus stomped upon the floor with such force, that all of the maze, all of the laboratory, all of the ancient and crashed Xeriîqe ship, and all of the sqaxakatenaôthe sgeir broke apart into several large chunks, and before he had finished unblinking all of the sides of ship and skerry were already bursting at their sinews and sucking in wind and froth and sea and sky, and even as he was stomping upon the floor lightning was born in his force and waves of thunder so great that whatever strength the old ship had was melted away, and so strong did he stomp that it was enough to launch him and Ixhúja high into the air for volitation. By the time he unblinked the Unicorns had already crashed together and were impaling one another, rending and snarling and were not yet realizing that the children were gone. Puîyus and Ixhúja sailed upwards several hundred cubits. The towers of the labyrinth were falling downwards one by one by one. The lower layers were already flooding with water. The Unicorns were screaming, the monstrious blue nekiυmva missing their prize.
And now everything was arising faster and faster and faster still. About half of the Unicorns were impaled upon each others’ horns and antlers, and in their struggles were only kicking their own hooves and bones deeper and deeper into each other, and they were become agony and screams. Fountains of water were bursting upwards. All of the walls of the ship were breaking apart, waves pouring within, it was all the smell of salt and ocean and goodness. Puîyus was laughing as he and Ixhúja sailed upwards higher and higher. The unicorns beneath were thrashing against each other in the waves, and those that were impaled against each other were sinking downwards and strangling each other in the gnashing of antler and teeth. Not all of the blue fhàjhati were trapped within the crashing of wave and against each other, some of the strongest of the nekiυmva were able to wrestle themselves out of the horde and leap upwards and those that hd been upon the outskirts were of the crashing mob were able to separate themselves, and the Unicorns ewre bounding against each other and dashing upwards within the rising waves, even as the walls of the ship were exploding and the fishes and whales of the deep crashed against the sides of the ship and began to reclaim it for the deep itself. And the Unicorns were bounding about each other, splashes of light and dark and foam swirling around and around and around each other and all the while they were arising and shooting upwards through the center, the Monsters skriking and heading right towards the Children who had dared to withstand them and not add their pain to the collection of agonies that sustained such Monsters.
Puîyus looked down and chuckled as the ship was buckling and imploding and becoming the waters, and he was careful to grasp unto Ixhúja all the tighter for he knew how concerned she could grow at the thought and feeling of so much open water. Already the outlines of the ship were breaking away, and the Unicorns arising in their twisting surge were finding themselves assaulted by fishes and sharks and orcs that were natal unto these waves, and the Unicorns were slowed down a little as they swung their antlers and horns from side to side and found themselves battling against creatures large and fierce and used to fight against serpent and storm. Puîyus looked upwards and found that within a moment that he and Ixhúja would be entering the swarm of the Traîkhiim, and he and Ixhúja were shooting upwards still from the force of the blows that he had struck upon the floor of the maze, and within a few moments they were lost within the shadows of beating wings and twisting strouthian necks and the Traîkhiim swirling about each other, their quetzal feathers swirling around and around in brilliant rondured patterns, and still higher and higher they arose, until no longer could the children even see the dissolving columns of the bridges and laboratory chambers of the vessel, but were simply caught up in a world of nothing but flut flut flut fluttering Traîkhiim spinning upwards in all directions. Puîyus laughed a little to himself, both he and Ixhúja were able to guess a little of what was transpiring although they could no longer see the destruction of the ship and some of the unicorns drowning and the bursting of clockweyth. Some of the Traîkhiim were crying out for along with the children of Khnìntha many of them were jhakhlèrko hydrophobic and disliked open seas, but so eager were the newly resurrected Traîkhiim to rescue their Empress, and they were all arising in a swarm to swift and terrible and fast that they had not enough time to remember their own fears. Puîyus and Ixhúja were arising faster and stronger than the Traîkhiim could up flutter, and so it was that all of the swarm perhaps an hundred thousand strong parted a little to let the children dash upwards right into the midst of it, and in the spinning feathers and the arising waves and the ululations of the Unicorns below and the howling the Traîkhiim thralls unto all sides, Puîyus and Ixhúja soon found themselves flying upwards right into the very hight of the swarm and they found Princess Éfhelìnye there with Aîya in her arms, and Traîkhiim holding onto her to hold her aloft. Several Traîkhiim came veering downwards and grabbed Puîyus by his arms and torq and cape and they held onto Ixhúja also and began to fly them upwards, and everything was arising dizzying spinning spinning spinning spinning.
When Princess Éfhelìnye saw that Puîyus was returned unto her and Ixhúja, she smiled in turn, and her smile was so bright and pure and happy that the Traîkhiim were all alighting about her and felt new energy surging up through them, and the swarm bursting upwards even higher and faster, and she leaned o'er and kissed one of Aîya’s heads a few times and chanted – Oh Puey, I just knew you’d return to me! Ixhúja, I hope you get your own chorus to the song about your glorious battle down there among the Monsters! –
Ixhúja shrugged, and adjusted her hold about Puîyus’ neck and winking a few times to her princessly cousin told her, Perhaps the song shall mention what a great helper I was to Puîyos the bane of the unicorn folk.
– I think you’re both very brave – Éfhelìnye chanted as they looked around and all of the labrynth was dissolving and along with it the last of the metallic and stone struts of the ship. Some slight and squamous walls were appearing, the outer skin of the vessel, and it was ribbed a little with some slight sheans of blood memories rolling about the sides of it, but even that was bursting away to reveal the shadows of the massive skerry atoll that was grown up upon all sides of them.
Aîya Àsya, clanless, a Child of the Dead, being yheld in the arms of the one whom the Traîkhiim wished to make their new Empress, was able to snake one of her heads around Éfhelìnye’s shoulders and for the first time catch a good glimpse of Puîyus and Ixhúja, and at first bristled a little to see the grime and drool and citrus xhepánga and dust upon their faces. Puîyus was smiling now, but no longer because of the joy of flight but because Éfhelìnye was smiling, and Ixhúja could not help herself either as all of the ship became skerry bursting upwards through the waters. Aîya looked around a little and felt tremendous cascades of water and foam drifting downwards, waves bursting all around, the utter confusion of water and air and sinking ship and wondered what strange force these children must be, and then shrugged with her triple and complex shoulders and looking to Puîyus and Ixhúja bowed unto them and chanted – Ciao! Glad to meet you, Aîya am I! –
– Mew! – Puîyus chimed with slight bow.
– Purr! – Ixhúja piped with a nod.
– Pardon? – asked Aîya. She looked unto the thousand Traîkhiim arising in a storm surge about her and whispered unto them to say – Did anyone understand them? –
– It seems a little difficult with those twain – some of the Traîkhiim whispered back.
One of Aîya’s heads reached outwards and whispered in a voice far too loud to say – Are you sure we found the right Children among the Færie Folk? Does anyone actually remember the words to the Prophecy? –
– It was more of a dance, than words – came several more Traîkhiim voices in response. – And like so much of our artistry can be interpreted in many different ways! –
– Great, an ambiguous prophecy! –moaned Aîya. – Why is it question that all these prophecies not only self-fulfilling but interpretable they in many myriad the ways! –
– Mew? – asked Puîyus.
– Purr? – asked Ixhúja, and the twins looked to each other and shrugged, for they were not entirely sure what the Traîkhiim meant, or even whether it were polite for them to be listening to this somewhat private conversationry.
– Okay, here be the question! – Aîya twisted all three of her heads towards Puîyus and Ixhúja and blinked her large white eyen several times at the children. – Now, we know about this one the feminine the Empress here, she just brought us back from death, she reached out into mist and smoke and danced they us ourselves back to life, she the Empress Qwás Kaîxhrenat Swakaîxhrenat of us all! Quite evident, quite obvious, quite prophetic. Nihilōminus, one must still ask a few querries questing inquiring of you two. Have you twain a moment? –
Puîyus and Ixhúja looked to each other and shrugged again, as they were arising through the brilliant swarm and the skerries swirling all about them, and they figured that, being carried and being swept up in the energy that they for the moment had no pressing needs, so they nodded their heads.
– Okay. Okay. Okay. Ahem. – Aîya cleared two of her throats and coughed up a few feathers from her third one, and Éfhelìnye continued to hug and brush her like a large kitten. – Now, are you the twain the ones from the Prophecy? The ancient Pèqloran prophecy, the one that the Prophet Khniikhèrkhmair prophesied unto us back in the storybook prophecy days? –
– ?? – wondered Puîyus.
– ?? – asked Ixhúja.
– Pardon? – chanted Aîya.
– ?? – asked Puîyus.
– ?? – wondered Ixhúja.
– Just give me a look for response? – asked Aîya.
– … –
– … –
– What’s that supposed to mean! –
Puîyus nodded a few more times and tried to explain unto Aîya in a language of blinks and glances and purrs and mews and blushes and sighs that various levels of communication nonverbal ranging from the purely visual to the more empathic one of sharing images and gestalts and dreams with another.
– Did you just mew at me? – asked Aîya.
Princess Ixhúja was wondering how much longer they had to play this particular reindeer game, and all about them the skerries were dashing upwards higher and higher still, the tremendous surge of the resurrected Traîkhiim arising in towers so swift and so strong that they were creating their own shafts of air bursting up through the waters, so that unto all side of them the children could see the slight outline of the arising coral and the outline of sharks and valüts and not a few narvals splashing about each other and fencing one against the other, and waves upon waves of bubbles were arising unto all sides of them and reaching outwards unto the long white shores of the estuaries and the cliffs of the whispering mountains where seamews and pterodons made their nests upon vertical sides many miles upon miles above the crashing ice and wave.
– Understanding aliens, who can understand they the aliens so not understandable they! – muttered Aîya unto herself. – Such a good idea that the honored Qhaôtriim chose Fhólus to travel among the wibbials and learn wisdomly advice off of them, Fhólus always was a little different better able to understand perceive thirl through the minds of others. What an odd trio have we here. –
Princess Éfhelìnye reached out and petted Aîya upon her heads a few times and hugged her all the tighter and told her – Sometimes people who have not grown up with Puey or my cousin Princess Ixhúja have trouble understanding their mode of speech, for most often they speak in the way that wild plantimals do, a fluidic language of ideas and dreams rather than in discreet geometries of words. –
– So, you saying that they talk like … trees and shamrocks and flowers? – asked Aîya.
– Yes! Isn’t that wonderful! – Éfhelìnye giggled.
– Don’t talk at all? – asked Aîya.
– Not really, although from time to time Puey has been known to say the name of someone very special unto him, the lovely name of a certain lovely Princess whom he’s going to marry and with whom he shall live happy and content until the end of his full days! –
– Really? Who? –
– It is I he shall marry. –
– Really? You? –
– Yes. –
– Are we talking about the Dance of Life? –
– I think so, although I not quite understand all the customs of your folk. –
– Wait wait wait wait wait – Aîya kept one head pointed to Éfhelìnye and one to Puîyus and one to Ixhúja. – Let me just understand this to say this in the words of mine own mind. So, you the new Empress, you’re the one who brought us all back to life, that’s rather important, miraculous, that we can all understand. –
– I didn’t really bring you to life, I just danced a little dance … –
– You danced in the ship of the Labyrinthbuilders, the one who were swinking for Lord Kàrijoi the Master of Life, that very significant, you able to change the harmonies he lay down. Now, you – and the head that was closest to Puîyus was jabbing towards him now and speaking – You with her, no? –
– Mew – Puîyus nodded.
– Stop saying that! – cried Aîya. – Like there be a kitten around here. –
– Puîyus and I shall be betrothed and married – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted. – I intend for him to be the new Emperor, and I shall be Empress by his side. –
– So, the fighting the great hordes of monsters, that I we they the understand, the overturning the scattering of the monstrious Fhàjhati, stomping and levinflame and fordrowning, quite awesome spectacle to behold. Emperor? Perhapsly. But no speaking? Sound like little kittenchen? How strange, how passing odd! –
– That just makes the prophecy all the more wonderous, don’t you think? – Princess Éfhelìnye asked. – I’m sure that Puey in his gentle and courteous manner, and the way he loves all wild things is quite a surprise. –
– Didn’t he impaling the Unicorns with own horns? Tearing apart with own hands? Screaming like a dragon dragon dragon? –
– That’s part of the fun – Éfhelìnye chanted.
Aîya’s head closest to Ixhúja blinked a couple of times at her and asked her – And now tell me, how do you fit into all this now? Not Empress, not Emperor, who are you? –
– Purr – Ixhúja yawned, for she was growing tired of this little interview, and rested her head against Puîyus’ shoulder and felt the arising of the swarm throughout the endless bubbles and darkness of the seas within their protection of air and shafts of light.
– So, reminding me again, since yellow head not the Empress not the Emperor, what she again? – Aîya was asking, and seeing that Ixhúja did not appear interested, and Aîya could not understand Puîyus, she turned all three of her heads untowards Éfhelìnye and asked – You the Xhámi, are like the Kèlor masters question always marrying in three, she the third marriage spouse? She Empress also? –
– No, Puey is not taking Ixhúja for wife or concubine – Éfhelìnye chanted – And the Xhámi are fashioned male and female, not alpha and beta and gamma like the Qhíng. Ixhúja is our kinswoman, in some way she’s Puîyus’ twin Sister, but she’s also my Cousin, or Sister in a way. –
– Pardon? –
– Puîyus and Ixhúja are both twin children of Raven and have a great deal in common. –
– Siblings? –
– In a way, but they don’t actually have the same parents, they come from different families and different fathers. –
– Not siblings. –
– But very similar. –
– So siblings. –
– And Ixhúja’s Father was my Father’s Foster Father, his first cousin, so Ixhúja is also my cousin, but since we are almost the same age and have shared many experiences together we are also sisters. –
– So, Ixhúja’s your cousin, born of uncle aunt twain? –
– Actually no, her Father created her. –
– Create baby? –
– Yes … ur … –
– Create baby? –
– It’s complicated, I don’t know all the details. –
– So, not cousin. –
– But Ixhúja and I share the same blood. –
– So, of the same family? –
– Although she is of the House Pfhaqhaîtsir, and I am of Pwéru. –
– So, not of the same family. –
– But we are surely cousins and siblings héena shenéedera in a matter of speaking. –
– In words words words words. –
– Even though we are not. –
– Words words words words. –
– Puey and I are not related at all. –
– Simple declairative statement. –
– Although we share Ixhúja in common. –
– Contradicted by next statement. –
– And Puey’s Ancestors reject both me and Ixhúja, actually Puey’s Ancestors are rejecting him a little at the moment. –
– So in other words, Puîyos not even related to own family? –
– Mostly not his Mother. –
– Not related to female parent. Huh? –
– It’s complicated. –
– Unrelated to his own family? –
– Except the living ones. As far as I know. –
– Any other contradictions? –
– None that spring to mind. Ae you following this? –
– Let me the translation the attempt. Ahem! Ahem! – Aîya cleared one throat and coughed out some feathers from two other throats and chanted – At least letting me try. So, Puîyos the new Emperor is and is not related to his twin Sister a child of Raven, and you are both Sister and Cousin to her although not, and she was not begotten but made, and you and the Emperor are not related although having sibling in common, and Puîyos not even related to own family and own Mother but is. Have I we the gotten everything in that? –
– I believe that’s most of it, yes. – Princess Éfhelìnye smiled.
Aîya smiled with all three of her mouths. She looked to Puîyus who shrugged and Ixhúja who yawned and then back to smiling Éfhelìnye, and at last Aîya concluded – You alien crazy! The Immortals strange strange ways in picking new Emperor and Empress! Oh! –
– Whom the Immortals love first they drive crazy, so the Qlùfhem say – Éfhelìnye blushed a little.
– Just wait next time talking to my dead parents telling them about these odd illogical aliens probably don’t even have proper dance of death they do how strange how sharp how brilliant weird! – Aîya was muttering unto herself, the Offspring of the Dead.
Ixhúja yawned and closed her eyen and thought that sometimes their little family was a bit odd also, but she only kept her eyen closed for a few moments because now all of the ship and labyrinth were far beneath them, and the bubbles were bursting and the great swarm of surging Traîkhiim was bursting upwards and came crashing right out of the waves of the Sqasqáli seas, and the Children were surfacing and saw before them the face of the seas and breathed in fresh air once again and seagulls and pterodons were circling in the air and before them came the jagged edges and white cliffs of the fjords of Syapàkhya, and the lines of whispering mountains that were the marge unto the northlands. The Traîkhiim continued to arise right out of the waters and were flying upwards in a great and winding helix and were holding the children tight unto themselves and unto the head of it. Screams minishing and splashing calls arose unto the ears of the children and looking donwards they could see breaking apart upon the waves tempestuous bits of the labyrinth and maze and jagged bones of the skerry, they saw towers that had once been part of wheel and clockwork and someof the mechanism and the bits and pieces of the laboratory of the Xeriîqe beign torn apart by the fishes and narvals of the deep. Several blue Unicorns arose and made it unto the surface but were struggling within the tumbling waters, their hooves and horns dashing from side to side and they were struggling to swim without fins at all, and the cry of the drowning Unicorns were tortuous and great as they began to sink among the sepulchral remnants of the sgeir. And so it was that the children found themselves dashing upwards higher and higher into the heavens within the Triîm surge upwards upwards and upwards right towards a few living ships jutting out of the whisps of cloudbank.
And now it came to pass, so the song is told, and here the bards take a breath before continuing with the story, that it chanced that veering out from the clouds were come the skiffs and shuttles of Captain Euqliîna and their long nets were spreading outwards and from the vessels and tugging behind them in rope and weirs the Sqòqhi umbrella ship which they had finally managed to drag through the layers of rust and planetoid and ruin that were left within the northron sky seas. And the rainbrella ship was covered in nightdew and in fungal spores for it had been dragged back and forth through several different layers of cloud, and it was bobbling a little from side to side, some of the fungoids in the passage had taken root and were growing about the deck, and some of the raining petals that had come to grow about the ship because of the dreams of Princess Éfhelìnye were twisting about a little and flowing about the spores, and within the shuttles and skiffs the pirates were tugging upon their ropes, and the accordions were silent because of the vast ominous waters, and not even the bagpipe folk were skirling in the least, for all about them were arising the crashing waves and the vast fjords and mile upon mile of great bone skerry branching outwards spidery unto the shores, and the seagulls were arising and spinning away from the pirates, and the ice pterodons were returning unto their nests and darting away, and Captain Euqliîna was lifting up flag and signaling unto the boatswain and the rest of the crew, and Qìtien and the fantabulous lwúnìqte were seated in their boat and looking outwards, and now at long last the pirates had been able to sneak their ship throughout the hidden passages and come unto the polar North, they were calling out one to another and sending up khmàleit smoke signals and trying to find all of the rest of their fleet.
Captain Euqliîna was signaling unto one boat to the next, for the passage unto the north had been long and treacherous and they had lost a few of their skiffs and men in the wake of the monstrious living ships doing battle one against the other, and strange raiding vessels had followed them for a time and fired a little, but the good Captain had given the order to hide and flee, and if the Sky Pirates licensed by the Noble Caste were skilled at anything at all, it was at hiding and smuggling and finding dark passageways that others could not, and so they came sneaking all about the crumbling asteroids and the chewing remnants of world and wall and finally made their way here about the cliffs and the nests and the long shores asphyxiated with skerry bones. And yet now Captain Euqliîna was swinging his telescopic astrolabe from side to side and keeping it aimed at his middle eye while his upper and lower eyen blinked and surveyed the horizon about them, and he knew that Puîyus Íngìkhmar’s Son had been trained in sailor skills by illustrious Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho, the greatest pirates of any age, the buchanneers of the land, and so although he was concerned that the future Emperor and Empress and Concubine had been separated from them, he was not worrying yet, for Puîyus had been able to withstand gale and battle and even monster before. Euqliîna lowered his khlainára duuradarshakam.h and sighed with his expansive xhètrafhoin lung-stomaches and waving his arms about gave a signal unto Qìtien’s ship at the other side of the robes and nets.
A Xhmaûmumum fluttered upwards and peered into the winds and flapping down unto Qìtien bowed unto the acolyte and chanted – Our Captain still has not found the divine Oânthekhon, the Children of the Land, and so will be returning to the sqòqhi to search for them there, in case the Children snuck on board and neglected to inform the rest of us. –
– It’s probably almost time for all of us to return to the Rainbrella ship, I would guess – Qìtien spake with his lower mouth, but his upper mouth added – Although I know nothing about sailing of course, the Captain will let us know. – The Acolyte turned to the lwúnìqte and nodded unto it, and the mörkö just bellowed a little and gazed outwards unto the expanse of bone and froth jutting out of the waves. – The Peróqhi Regent Sylvan Grandfather Thiêfhilos ordered me to bring the children unto the North where Sieur Íngìkhmar is bringing some of his forces. I pray that the Immortals bless our holy Regent Sylvan in his crusade, for the north is harsh and forbidding and not a place for outworlders. I understand that the new Emperor was born in the barbarous garths of Jaràqtu, honored and beloved Cælestial Crown Prince, and yet my lwalwamfhòtya heart-brain memisgiveth me and mefilleth with dread. – Qìtien blinked at the wonderous lwúnìqte a few times and chanted – What do you think, eh boy? This acolyte probably worries far too much. Why any moment now we’ll be greeted by the screams of the children, and the bagpipe wihts will be happen again and start their playing, and the concertinas will soon be bouncing about and giggling in their own song, and all of the pirates will be leaping in their jig. Puîyos and Éfhelìnye will be dancing together in the ship embrightening and the Khnìnthan Princess will be engaged in her usual species of tlhàpela of cantraψ, of mayhem. Ah, perhaps my lwalwamfhòtya brain-heart is too old for my body, perhaps after the Great War la der des der those of us who were already adult units were aged from the inside out, and cannot conceive of the wonder of how things should be. Do you think I just talk too much? – The lwúnìqte’s only response was just to bleat out – Khmàryor! Khmàryor! Khmàryor! – a few times, but whether that had any descreet meaning the Acolyte could not possibly guess, for he did not know the language of Monsters, for even the most kind and fantastic ban-yip was a Monster and akith unto the dread Fhàjhati Xhròpfhe who were raging within the crashing labyrinth below.
Several more Xhmaûmumum began to flutter about the Acolyte Qìtien and read the signals that Captain Euqliîna was giving, and so it was that the Pirates began to draw all of their skiffs and shuttles back towards the rainbrella vessel, and they began to pull down upon the ropes and nets and set them back into their pins and wheels, and the pirates within the rainbrella vessel were turning the mainsprings of the sampo motor and the great canopy was slowly opening and flexing its coils open, all of the vessel slowly springing to life, and so the pirates drew their living ships back and were one by one hopping back unto the wharves and the outer daises and setting the boats in their place.
Captain Euqliîna tossed his captain hat into the air and let it spin around in the winds before snatching it up with one set of hands, and pouring out all around him came the atsáya rooster raptors and the bagpipe creatures and the concertinas bouncing from side to side, and the Captain came running about the wharve wheels and searched for the great jhuináxhyong he had given unto the Children, but found it not in its hooks, nor any sign of it within the other layers. He came running out upon the dais, the atsáya nazischo and the bagpipe wihts and the accordions leaping besquawkent all about him and cupping a set of hands to each mouth he cried out – Little bairnlings, wee childrenlings! This is Captain Euqliîna! Are you on board yet? Did you get lost? Is anyone hungry? Did you manage to find any booty on the way because we’re perilously low on candies right now! – Captain Euqliîna picked up a few barrels and poked inside just in case the new Emperor and Empress were playing that most Qhíngan game of qhàngeqhe of hide and seek, and he lifted up several barrels and shook them about and even peered into a few boxes far too small of the children and completely unsuitable for sävopled kaŝludo and then tossing them aside cried out – Well, I certainly hope someone’s found some candy on the way, even just a small taste of pink lemonade would be nice, that was quite a treacherous crossing through the ruins and among those monstrious vessels and perhaps it was best that I were as unhyper as possible, yet now that it’s o'er I could sure use with a few sweet, sweet sips of xhamàrnafhin soma. Or even just a few puffs upon that blue lotos. – Captain Euqliîna stormed about some of the inner daises even as pirates were swirming all about him and dragging boats into their place and unfurling the solar sails and getting the ship ready, and somewhere about him he could hear the sounds of the rooster raptors squawking and clucking and claiming the whole vessel for their own. Wheels and ropes were clattering about and springing back to life. Several pirates were dashing away and bringing up some new flags with them. The ship was brimming with activity, and yet no matter where Captain Euqliîna looked he saw no sign of the children. As some of the other pirates were finished getting the sqòqhi vessel skyshape they were leaping up upon their wings or spinning upon their claws and also searching within the towers and springs and motors of the vessel.
Captain Euqliîna clapped his hands together and muttered to himself – Aha! Wait just a moment! The tàmar blue khavra, I know what became of them! – He looked around and looking downwards saw that upon a lower layer of the wharves Qìtien was disembarking along with the most fantastic lwúnìqte and was most certainly out of ear-range. The Captain smiled a double grin and muttered to himself – It was after Puîyos and Ixhúja were chasing each other and tickling and kissing each other, and Qìtien made me burn the blue lotos and pink lemonade, I managed to hide a few leaves of the tàmar mtende in a tinder box and give it to … give it to the Empress for safe keeping! She told me that if we survive the War she’d help me be reunited with my dearheart again, yes, Empress Éfhelìnye has the jacinth giŝimmarum! – Euqliîna giggled unto himself and slapped his brow a few times with his four hands and laughing all the while made his way back unto the cabin in the center of the vessel where the towers and billows arose, and rolling aside the door wondered why he had not searched in the cabin for the Children in the first place. He ran about the room in a few cirles and chanted – Oh how lonely the room is without the Children, they’ve left naught but their memories within, but nothing of themselves, not a weapon, not the book she was writing, probably not even an hair. I wonder whether she even left the blue lotos in the room after all. Desk! Desk! Check and search the escritoire! – Captain Euqliîna sprung unto the desk and poked far too many hands into the drawers but found nothing at all but some scraps of paper and some pencils and some beak nebs for quills, and then he looked upwards, he pressed his whisp ears about the wall and clammered about the joints and sinews and then running unto the pristine white bed in the center began thrusting his hands under the pillow and searching about and whimpered – Where is that blue lotos will somebody please tell me where the blue lotos is someone has to know have to find it before Qìtien comes acolyte won’t let me have any fun at all it’s been a long and hard quest just let me have the lotos right now! – The Captain fell upon his double sets of knees and began rummaging beneath the bed, and he kept poking his cylindrical head beneath the mattress board and struck said head a few times and groused all the while all four of his arms reaching outwards and brushing against the wooden deck and dust, and outside he could hear the sound of the Pirates as they were beginning to scrape the spores and fungoids off of the ship, and then one of his twenty-eight fingers brushed against something, and he tried again and felt the edge of something small and wooden, and giggling unto himself all the while he drew out from beneath the bed the very same xyloid box that he had given unto the Empress for safekeeping, and she even affixed a note unto it that read, Please return me to honored Captain Euqliîna.
– May the Immortals bless and prosper Emperor Puîyos and Empress Éfhelìnye – Captain Euqliîna sighed as he sprang the box open and his upper mouth curved into a circle so as to sniff the tàmar leaves flowing niilaabja within. At once the good Captain burst out into deep laughter and drawing out four pipes stuffed them as quickly as he could and lit them up, and the smell of the lotos arose about him, deep and thick and acrid and oneiric, and after being so unhyper for so long, without even a drop of pink lemonade, but having but some cookies and baked treats for sugar, the taste and rush of the blue lotos so thirled him that he felt transported unto the very gates of paradise, and he grinned a couple of very wide grins in glee. He rummaged inot his pockets and yanked out several more pipes and filled and lit them all and bursting out from the cabin he held up the box of lotos and the burning pipes, and at once all of the Kurkuîlo and Xhmaûmumum and Khnenyènwa and Fhlùltekh pirates spun around and gaped and drank in the wonderous and burning smell so long denied them, and the rooster raptors and bagpipe creatures and concertinas fell silent in awe, and the Captain, puffing upon his four pipes cried out – Don’t tell the silly Acolyte but I’ve got blue tàmar lotos! Everyone, come on! First ones to me get a pipe, all the rest of you can share and pillage and fight for the rest of it! We’re smoking the lotos now! –
– Qlaixha! Ness gadol! – cried the Fhlùltekh as they ran towards their Captain.
– Qui! Kompreneble! – laughed the Khnenyènwa as they shoved each other and dashed upwards.
– Khyapunta! Wassail! – sang the Xhmaûmumum as they arose upon triangular wing and spun about Euqliîna.
– Khwaet! Rowrbazzle! – cried the Kurkuîlo as they snapped their claws.
– Blue lotos blue lotos blue lotus blue lotos! – sang Captain Euqliîna as he danced around the pipes and stuck pipe into mouth after mouth and when he had run out of pipes he thrust the leaves into the beaks and faces of his crew until all of the pirates were leaping around and laughing and beginning their own jig and singing out – Blue lotos blue lotos blue lotos blue lotos fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa! –
Captain Euqliîna puffed out rondures of blue smoke arising about his head and cried out – Just whatever you do, don’t tell that stuffy Acolyte of what I’ve found! –
– We won’t say a word at all! – laughed all the Pirates as they began leaping about each other and were lighting the last of the leaves and were laughing all the while. And behind the arising puffs of blue smoke, swirling upwards from the riant pirates, out of the dark clouds large shapes were forming, the outline of vessel drifting upon the edge of twisting tentacle, and great raiding forms arising out of the frothing skerries. The pirates were spinning around and clapping their hands and wings and leaves and claws and failed to notice that the waves beneath them were churning and entire reefs of skerries were collapsing upon themselves and in the implosions revealing its of ancient laboratory and clockwork machinery, long and winding walls and bridges, and great explosions of light and water and white smoke.
– May the Immortals smile upon Emperor Puîyos and Empress Éfhelìnye! – sang Captain Euqliîna.
– May the new Sun and Moon endure for eternity and a day and three sevenths! – laughed the rest of Pirates.
– For the Divine Twins have gifted us with the Tàmar blue lotos! –
– We’ll sing and clap and dance to that! Puîyos! Éfhelìnye! Fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa! –
Qìtien the Acolyte was brushing the gills and ears of the fantastic lwúnìqte when he heard the sound of joyous laughter, and the plaudits of sailors, and a few moments later came the sighing of concertinas and the caw caw cawing of atsáya rooster raptors and the skirling of so many bagpipes all singing at once. Qìtien bowed his head for hearing the celebration thought that it could only mean that the new divine Family of the Pwéru had been found, and he whispered several prayers of thanksgiving unto the Clan of Áme who cannot die, and coming up through the layers of the deck, the lwúnìqte mörkö walking up beside him, her heard again and again the cries – Puîyos! Éfhelìnye! Puîyos! Éfhelìnye! Tee hee hee hee hee hee hee! –
– I’m certainly glad that we found them! – Qìtien the Acolyte chanted as he walked up unto Captain Euqliîna, and puffs of smoke were arising from the pirate captain, and his eyen were blurred and unfocused.
– Found whom? – Captain Euqliîna asked.
– So where are they? – Qìtien asked as he spun around. – We should ask for their blessing after such an ordeal and see to their needs. –
– Who are where? – asked Captain Euqliîna, several more blue puffs arising about him.
– Where are Emperor Puîyos and Empress Éfhelìnye and their Sister Princess Ixhúja? –
– Who? –
– The Emperor and Empress and Khnìnthan Princess! –
– Huh? –
– Emperor Puîyos and Empress Éfhelìnye and Princess Ixhúja? –
Captain Euqliîna gulped and tried to blink a few times. – The Emperor was on my ship? Huh? –
Qìtien sniffed the air. He sniffed his four hands. He sniffed in the generation direction of the wandering and laughing pirates, his upper and lower mouths contracting into a nose, and he sniffed towards the strands of blue smoke arising about them all, and then he turned to Captain Euqliîna and his four bristling pipes and the long strands of jacinth smoke arising, and Qìtien blinked a few times and crossing his arms, his middle eye peering, and he asked – What are you smoking? –
– I’m smoking? – coughed Captain Euqliîna.
– Where did you get that? –
– I have something? Oh, by the Ancestors, this is some good stuff, I had forgotten how good and pure and true the real stuff could be. Nice and fresh blue tàmar. Learned to smoke it as a I child, I did, best decision I e'er made in all my days. Reminds me of the time when I was just a little thing, I was staying with the other lads at the abby and we were learning to smoke behind the columns and walls, and then there came a whoosh and the pterodactyls were soaring and all of the clouds breaking apart. I didn’t take the apples, I know I did I was just picking them and the basket broke. The apples had nothing to do with me! Qìtien, you have to believe me, the apples were not my fault! – Captain Euqliîna was grabbing Qìtien by a few of his arms and shaking none to gently as he was shouting. – And then the seas died down, and the mittens were safe. I tell you, no mittens were e'er as safe as those were. –
– I have no idea what you’re trying to say! – Qìtien tried to wriggle out of Euqliîna’s grasp. – And I take it from your smell and the blue smoke and your comments making even less sense than usual that you’ve found some of that silly lotos again, haven’t you! –
– Oh, that’s what you want me to say, don’t you? Perhaps I don’t wish to play your intricate little game of puzzlement and answers, perhaps I wish to sneak through the clouds of mine own accord and on mine own terms – and Euqliîna gazed about and blinked and looked out unto sparkles of dust and a few xhyóqha fungal spores drifting about in the winds and was looking at only what he could see. – And in the end all of the worlds shall be reborn and reärranged afore my gaze, and these three eyen themselves shall behold the face of the new Emperor and Empress, and the Land shall be anew. –
Qìtien yanked himself away from the Captain’s grasp and looking outwards beheld the sparkling dark storms gathering above them, and the vast tendrillar forms reaching outwards, and then he saw that the waters were parting and surging up out of them came a great cloud consisting of serpentile necks and flapping wings and thousands of writhen forms, and his eyen were large in terror and wonder, for they almost looked like a turrent of Traîkhiim arising out of the depths of the skerry seas, and all men that have dealings with the Qhíng who are lords of the tnoaqteûpa slaves know that the Traîkhiim are terrified of open water, and his double jaws dropped down.
– You’re almost making sense, Euqliîna, in talking about beholding the visages of the new Emperor and Empress – so Qìtien the Acolyte was saying. – But more pertinent than asking what you’re smoking, for I know, and where you got it, for that’s irrelevant now, are the questions, What are those massive living ships arising right behind us and how can we avoid them, and what shall we do about the massing mountain of Traîkhiim bursting out of the waters about to engulf our entire vessel? –
Captain Euqliîna staggered from side to side and hiccoughed a little as the blue smoke arose for to engulf him and staggering a little laughed unto himself and muttered – Now it is you must be the one smoking that sweet, sweet blue tàmar the sweetest and tastiest and bestest of all of the herbs that can be plucked and dried and tasted and smoked and tasted, why, we escaped from the giant living ships within the wreckage they can’t be coming here and Traîkhiim arising out of the waterment firmament pepperment that’s just silly that’s crazy talk you talking crazy talk now my friend my acolyte my captain my captain! –
And all of the pirates were spinning about Qìtien and leaping upon claw and wing and laughing as they smoked their lotos, and not a few of them reached into pocket and drew out some candies and cookies to munch, for the persuit of sugar can be quite a tasty life for those who long for adventure upon the high sky seas, and the Pirates were still dancing their own jigs and laughing all the while, and the atsáya rooster raptors were hopping upon their claws and the bagpipe creatures and the concertinas were singing and joining in the fun, and the Pirates were even lifting up their voices and laughing when the dark Xeriîqe living ships burst out of the cloudbanks and began swiveling their cannons right towards the rainbrella vessel.
And a moment before the Xeriîqe fired upon the rainbrella vessel, the swarming horde of the Traîkhiim came crashing right up upon the ship anyway, and chaos was reigning surpreme. For it also came to pass that the tremendous body of newly resurrected Traîkhiim were bursting right out of the froth and main and waves, and sparkles of prismatic light were flowing about them all, the endless Traîkhiim an hundred thousand strong breathing in the outer air for the first time since their living deaths, their shroud wings flowing outwards, and here in the halflight of the Emperor’s gloamtide their wings were spreading outwards and become a little like butterfly wings, and they were breathing in deeply of their triple wings and flowering upwards and laughing at the pure joy of being alive, and at the forefront of this growing mass came the fluttering Traîkhiim who were holding up Puîyus and Éfhelìnye and Ixhúja and carrying them aloft, and Éfhelìnye was hugging Aîya the Child of the Dead close unto herself, and the children saw naught but blazing columns of water and air and the explosion of the skerries of the laboratories and labyrinth was destroyed beneath them and sunk down into the chaos of the Fhàjheti nekiυmva.
Aîya, sniffed the air with her triple nebs, and her antennæ whisps were twisting from side to side, and her eyen narrowed and she leaned towards Éfhelìnye and whispered – The Traîkhiim, long dead, long undead, long almost dead, we feed now. –
– Good, I’d imagine I’d be hungry also after being not quite alive for so long – Princess Éfhelìnye nodded.
Puîyus who had been keeping his fast since the moment that his betrothed bride Fhermáta had been taken from him tugged upon an ear and wondered whether he would be forhungered after being not fully alive for so long, and he concluded that even if he were he would wait until the proper time, perhaps for Fhermáta to feed him. Puîyus knew that he was still Jharlrálro and dead to his family after being sent upon the martyrdom mission to kill the Suzerain Speaker Xhnófho Khmaiqràfhta, the Pirate’s Cousin, that was how he was able to leave Jaràqtu with honor and seek to end the War of Winter and ask for Éfhelìnye’s hand in betrothal and marriage even before the Crystalline Throne, and yet when he had met the Ancestors and turned his back upon them, was he still jharlrárlo and mourned alive, for he was still not fully an Ancestor unto them. And it was impossible to be both jharlrálro and the Cælestial Crown Prince, for the new Emperor is the life itself and is not martyrdom and death. He decided that being partially dead and being partially alive, being an Ancestor and being a Traîkhiim, these were all issues of theologia far too taxing for his simple warrior mind. He looked to Ixhúja and gave her a quizzical look, and she just shrugged it off, she was already half dozing upon his breast anyway, and she was thinking that if she were a Traîkhiim and had been dead for a time, or at least some sort of maisha and white smoke, that she would also wait alittle.
– I can see some forests beyond the wastes of the shoreline – Princess Éfhelìnye told Aîya. – I know that your kind delight in all manner of wild fruit and vegetables and boscage, I’m sure you shall find something there unto your xhlòxhei gizzard heart’s contentment gigeria maĉostomako. Does a Traîkhiim have one tsenaxhlòxheu or many, by the way? –
– Giser, it depends what mood, what humor, what transmogrification – Aîya Àsya was whispering unto herself. She kept looking upwards unto the shadows and licking her lips, and she was not the only one, all of the rest of the Traîkhiim were looking from side to side and their whisp-ears were flowing. Princess Éfhelìnye was wondering what it was that the Traîkhiim could be sniffing, for the people were all so very close one to another that surely they could only be sniffing each other. Aîya began to laugh unto herself as she muttered – What tasty tasty friends we have. What yummy yummy people we are. Most delectable most scrumptious most delicious people the Traîkhiim the children of Akhàkhma the Namer! Can you not smell it taste it see it goodly enough to eat? – Aîya giggled a few more times.
– I’m not entirely sure of what you mean, jheîsayAîya my friend – Éfhelìnye chanted, and for good measure she sniffed the air and could only taste the waves and salt and just the slightest hint of cinnamon about her. – Can you smell food that I cannot? –
– Ffwng ffwng ffwng ffwng I we they all smell fungus fungus fungus fungus all all all about the taste the seeds the spores spores spores spores xhyóqha xhyóqha xhyóqha! –
– Oh. –
– Spores in all the air on each other in the wind spore spore everywhere we eat we devour we feast! –
– Oh … –
– Must eat in groups must eat in families we Traîkhiim we eat we hae the jhexhluntùxhwo the eating tapu we eat in our clans with our guest-friends only eat eat eat eat eat. –
– Yes … – Princess Éfhelìnye looked around and saw that the heavens were parting for the surging Triîm and that flowing out from the whisps of cloudbank a few living ships were jutting outwards, and the shadows of many skiffs and shuttles were appearing, and one by one by one all of the Traîkhiim were gasping and licking their mawls, and their gizzard-hearts were grumbling within them, their stomaches become like stone, and their eyen blinking in their hundred thousand the Traîkhiim could taste that those vessels had traveled quite far, and were dripping with dew and spores that lay fresh all upon their sails and sides and ways, and that the sailors me hearties had not had a chance to clean up the living ships at all.
– Those living ships they be fine fine fine fine fine! – smiled Aîya.
– I’m sure whoever is sailing them would be only too happy to share what they have – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted.
– Tasty living ships, fungal sails and fungail floor and fungal everything. –
– Why, those vessels appear very familiar, they remind me of the pirate vessels of Captain Euqliîna’s … in fact, by those flags … –
– Good living ships. Tasty living ships. Rend them apart. Eat eat eat eat eat! – squealed Aîya.
– AîyAîya, I think it would be best if … – Éfhelìnye began.
– Yummy treat! – sang Aîya.
– Goodly treat! – sang the hundred thousand Traîkhiim.
– Perhaps it would be best if we warn Captain Euqliîna … – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– Good to eat! – sang Aîya.
– Good for treat! – sang the hundred myriads of Traîkhiim.
Éfhelìnye reached o'er unto Puîyus and shook him a little, for he was dozing off a little and leaning next to Ixhúja, for the battle against the fell golden horned Fhàjheti had been wearisome, and the flight among the Traîkhiim was extremely soporific, and he could feel in the rising and falling and the beating of the wings that their Traîkhiim friends would never do anything to harm him or the Princesses, and so he found his eyen closing a little and thinking about how long it had been since he had slept in a proper bed with sheets and blankets and a pillow for his neck. But Éfhelìnye poked him a couple of times with her ballet slipper and with the hand which was not holding Aîya and she whispered to him – Puey! You have to help me, you’re probably the only Xhámi to have spent substantial amounts of time actually living with the Traîkhiim in their own dreamlands and civilization rather than as slaves, you know them, they love you, they revere Khiêro of Old thy first Ancestor, so please help me, I don’t know what to do! –
Puîyus sprung awake and fully alert although he was careful to leave Ixhúja fast asleep and leaning against him, for once the Khnìnthan Princess was calm and asleep, Puîyus wished for absolutely nothing to disturb her rest, especially not himself, but he looked to Éfhelìnye and she blinked a couple of times and pointed up unto the pirate skiffs coming into view and the long ropes that were tugging the rainbrella takbekEged behind them, and Puîyus sniffed the air a few times and could taste the evendew and fungal spores drifting in the air. All about him the Traîkhiim were licking their nebs and gnashing their beaks and giggling with their twitching whisp ears and yoddling a little in their throats, and they kept jerking their heads upwards towards the peiratical living ships bursting out of the cloudwalls.
– Puey, the Traîkhiim are quite forhungered – Éfhelìnye chanted, her eyen sparkling with concern. She looked up unto the vessels clearing through whisps of frost and cloud, streams of light and fungus drawing off from them.
– We want the vessels – sang Aîya.
– The vessels are ours – sang the hundred thousand Traîkhiim.
– We tear we rend we rip we eat the vessel! –
– Eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat! – laughed the hundred thousand Traîkhiim.
Aîya twisted one of her heads towards Puîyus and licking her lips chanted – Feeling a little peckish myself. Just a snack. Just a taste. You to be hungry, Puîyos Khiêro’s Sonthe new Emperor the Emperor to be the living Saiqíren question? You want to eat the ship also? –
– We may have a slight problem here – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted.
The Traîkhiim were all laughing about each other, and the sound of their grinding beaks and clanking nebs was drowning out the sound of the skiffs and shuttles drawing back unto the rainbrella vessel and the fluttering of the ropes and the lashing of the solar sails, and the Kurkuîlo and Xhmaûmumum and Khnenyènwa and Fhlùltekh dashing all about and searching the vessel for the lost Emperor and Empress, and the cries of the jubilous Traîkhiim were arising and drowning out even the sound of Captain Euqliîna’s running outwards and tossing pipe and blue leaf unto the men and the sound of dance and jig. And so it was that the Traîkhiim were arising, and the swarms were breaking apart into the various cliffs and kindreds and families, for the Traîkhiim were oft loathe to feast in the presence of of those not of their own, and so spinning loops of the Àqhu and the Úla and the Álu and the Fhúxha and the Úkhta were breaking apart, and long strands drifting outwards who were the Children of the Dead, and thousands upon thousands of Traîkhiim were arising in great rondures and heading right towards the outer wharves and daises of the rainbrella vessels, and great orbits of the Triîm were bursting upwards and heading right towads the billows and sampo motors, and some of the Traîkhiim were bursting upwards in great family groups and heading right towards the curving umbrella, and other Traîkhiim were drifting outwards and were heading towards the barrels and skiffs and the outer sways, and so it was that long and winding rondures of the Traîkhiim were swirling upwards within the bursting clouds, and those Traîkhiim who were the Children of the Dead were fluttering and holding up Puîyus and Éfhelìnye and sleeping Ixhúja right up o'er the edge the vessel.
– Eat eat eat eat eat! – laughed Aîya.
And the Traîkhiim were arising, their beaks agnashing.
– Eat eat eat eat eat! – sang the endless hordes of the Traîkhiim as they arose, and they were vast and triangular shadows falling upon all of the sections of the tàlkhi skiffs and jhuîxhyong shuttle boats and the thrawn layers of the sqòqhi rainbrella vessel. The Traîkhiim were indeed breaking apart into clans and into smaller family groups so as not to violate their eating tabu, but they had been unquiet white smoke for some time, ensorcelled deep within the Emperor’s dreams, and it had been quite a long time since any of them had tasted the grittiness of salt and the feel of ice and icicles or licked even dew or eaten of the goodness of fungal spores, and so their eyen were sparkling a little in anticipation of all of the textures and tastes and wonders left of them to explore and whereon to feast after so many long, long ages of quiet living death tqèwa undead nieumarły epäkuollut mort-vivant Untoten. The Traîkhiim were arising in many different flairing loops, and at first the pirates were completely insensate to the fact, even as Qìtien the Acolyte was shouting and waving his four arms and pointing unto the crennelations at the edge of the wharves and the spinning ropes and the towers that were spreading upwards and reaching up unto the billows. Deep within the deadlands of Khnìntha where once fields of rich and red ferns once green, on plantations which were once bountiful with fungoids and trees, upon hills that used to sparkle with wheat, now barren the land was, the great clockwork machines tilling through them and crushing all of the soil and rock and mineral ore, and bursting upwards out of the machines and through the crackling ruins of the welkin come thousands upon thousands of squamous and silicate ùle locusts bursting through the air and falling upon whatever useful they can find, the nzige break apart the stone and fall upon the dying stalks of wheat and the witherinf fungoids, the shalabha crawl upon the crumbling cannals and squirm throughout the dying and grinding gears of the machines, the luxzia crawling all about and clogging of the clockweyth and yanking out anyting wheel that they can find useful, the ùle insects destroying all they can find so as to replenish themselves and repair themselves and wind back their own mainsprings in the endless midnight horror that has fallen upon the once proud and beautiful red moons of Khnìntha, and like unto these ùle luxzia the Traîkhiim were splashing downwards and attacking the pirate vessel in many different directions at once, and at first all that Captain Euqliîna could do was smoke his pipes and dance about and laugh, and all the rest of the Kurkuîlo and Khnenyènwa and Xhmaûmumum and Fhlùltekh were leaping in similar accord laughing all the while, but they did not laugh for too long. Suddenly all of the barrels were bursting apart as strouthian heads were leaping out of them, and the Traîkhiim were fighting each other as they gobbled up fungal spore and they licked each others’ feathers for the last crumbs of salt, soon the boxes and jars and urns within the holdings were rolling apart and bursting at the sinews as strong wings were fighting their way out of them, the Traîkhiim were rolling right out of the boxes and spinning about upon their finger-toes, and their faces were smeared with all the brine and fungus they could find, soon all of the towers were covered in Traîkhiim. The pirates were shouting one to another, cærulea smoke dripping up from their beaks and wings for the towers were beginning to lean from side to side because of the weight of the Traîkhiim crawling up and down the sides of it, for the Traîkhiim did not mind at all walking upon each other and beating their wings into one anothers’ necks, so hungry and frenzied were they, so enthused were they after being dead for so long; many times before the Pirates had scraped plàjo barnacles off of the scales and hull of this sqòqhi kekicopter, many times in their various ventures on many adventuring vessels they had brought their living ships to rest in some sound and silent lagoon and left it rest upon its side and drew the plàjo and shells and eels right off with hook and claw and knife, and yet the angwhi and veäds and plàjo were not as thick as the Traîkhiim were now, and not nearly as boisterous as the Traîkhiim were befluttering one about the other and gobbling up all of the fungal spores with two faces while their third poked their siblings and squawked and screamed and breyed. A few of the struts that held up the billows of the rainbrella vessel were already swaying from side to side and breaking apart. And the Traîkhiim were falling down upon the decks and levels and crennelations of the ship in greater and greater and greater numbers, until the Traîkhiim were a massive rolling devouring storm, they were licking up all of the surface of the ship and falling upon the fins and wings of the vessel and crawling right into the wheels of the sampo motoros and ripping them outwards, and the Traîkhiim came spinning right into the cabin and began biting at the door and window and bursting right against the walls.
– Yes, we have a slight problem indeed – Princess Éfhelìnye whispered.
The Traîkhiim that were holding up Princess Éfhelìnye were getting a little twùkukh khmuifhùrki ill at ease, and seeing that the rest of their siblings were already feasting and dancing at the same time, they knew that they had to join. The Traîkhiim although they had no former lords or viceroy kings or rulers did have a particular sense of harmony since all of their society was base upon dancing, and so already those looping families of Triîm who had first fallen upon the deck and gobbled up the firstfruits of the fungal spores were already rising again and letting other groups of their brethren fall downwards, and so Éfhelìnye found herself being spun up high into the air as the Triîm that held her hurled her aside, and at once she was caught up within the limbs of several others who had just finished eating, and so the feast began anew for new groups. Puîyus and Ixhúja were being held by a different group of the Traîkhiim, and then they tried to pry the twain apart, Puîyus just held onto Ixhúja all the tighter, for he was eager to keep her safe and fast asleep with him, and he was not entirely sure how she would respond to the sight of the Traîkhiim hordes xhnòtsipo kórn kòrnang bearsark’d, in fact he was not entirely sure how he was responding in seeing it. The Traîkhiim holding him and Ixhúja just dropped them and clicked a little while, and Puîyus came tumbling through the air and held onto Ixhúja, but he remained calm, for the fluttering swarms of the Traîkhiim were so incredibly thick about him that all he could hear was clicking and the flapping of butterfly wings, and all he could see were Traîkhiim arising and falling and ripping up wood and board and everything that had been coated in delicious fungalstrewn sweetmeats. Within a few moments a new group of Traîkhiim came flowing upwards within the spinning and bursting groups and wrapped their limbs about Puîyus and Ixhúja and held them tight and drew them high aloft, and Puîyus soon found himself floating again closer unto Éfhelìnye with little Aîya in her arms, and Aîya was feasting upon some slabs of fungus larger than her entire body.
– This is quaad, so very, very quaad! – Éfhelìnye whispered.
Puîyus had no desire to fight the Traîkhiim whom he had just recently helped to liberate for after all papàkhno serelónge khmekhálomat xhùrmat ixolèfheqhe ìxotlha eqesúra eqtóla especially since so often they were the slaves of the Qhíng and since their Ancestors had friends unto his first Ancestor Khiêro, and he had a special liking for Fhólus and delighted in watching the Traîkhiim in their play and dance, but now that he was seeing that the Traîkhiim were finishing gobbling up all of the salt and dewbeads and cloudstrewn fungoids, now they were turning one to another and quacking all the louder, and the Traîkhiim were beginning to rip up the ropes that held the long boats and skiffs at bay, they were rushing outwards and chasing after the bagpipe creatures and licking their tartans and drones, they were skipping up and biting the accordions and making them ooze and squeak, they were dashing all around the atsáya rooster raptors and squeaking all the louder, and the Traîkhiim were now in their growing hordes in tens of thousands in their various families ripping up the wood and boards of the rainbrella vessel and licking it and searching for food and tossing the jetsam about, they were crawling about the solar sails and shredding it with their beaks and wings, and they were completely clogging up the motors and bursting into the cabin and tripping up the pirates, and even as the Traîkhiim were filling all things and bursting out of the ship, and the pirates for the first time stopped laughing, the ship was beginning to shiver and grown from the weight of the Traîkhiim especially since the Traîkhiim were never stopping in their movement, for the fluttering hordes were not just landing upon the layers of the ship and about its fins and diases and moving parts, but being the mansuete Pèqlor dancers of the Land, the Traîkhiim even while gobbling and chasing each other never stopped dancing their own dance, and in their mad feast they were grown all the more frenzied, they were spinning about the Pirates and plucking them up and hurling them down towards the boxes and jars, the Traîkhiim were now the ones giggling all the while as they skimmed and swirled and skated up and down the length of the billows of the groaning rainbrella canopy, and the ship was creaking as all of its gears were clattering and breaking apart form the swirling tidal weight pressed against it, the Traîkhiim were leaping up all the faster now and were ripping up floorboard and wall and skipping about and kicking away the parts, leap hop kick kick leap hop kick kick they were throwing away the boxes and biting through the bone oars skip skip slide slide slide skip skip slide slide slide they were running out of the scent of the fungal spores and so attacked the gears and crennelations and dancing all the while fell upon the pirates and fell upon them in great numbers kicking and biting them leap leap kick kick leap bite kick and the Traîkhiim were looking around with frenzied mind, for those of one family caught a glimpse of those within another family taking a bit of wood and stone, and those of one friendship saw those of another, and so shameful it was to see the eating of another and to be seen eating that the Traîkhiim had no choice but to dance all the harder and begin shredding all of the sqòqhi ship in bits in bits in bits in dance.
– Uncle Xhnófho always chanted that not even the Kèlor Qhóng who have had the most dealings with the Traîkhiim Triîm can truly understand them – Éfhelìnye chanted. – This is very, very bad! – She looked around but not even the Traîkhiim who were carrying her were concerned about what she was saying, and even Aîya in her arms was more interesting in ripping apart the huge fungal slab and shoving it into her three mouths, and she was grumbling and growling and her three heads were fighting each other as they tried to gobble it up.
Puîyus was rubbing Princess Ixhúja’s back a little as she slept, it a soothing habit that sometimes he did to Akhlísa when she was slumbering, and he was barely even aware that he was doing it. He wished to set her someplace safe and take command of the situation, for he would not permit the Traîkhiim to harm the ship or the pirates or each other. He tried to signal unto the Traîkhiim to set him down, but those that were holding him were just flapping and squawking and crying out, and at first Puîyus could not understand what was distracting them at all since they were not even currently involved in the feast but were swirling aside and holding him and Ixhúja, but then Puîyus noticed that even the tens of thousands of Traîkhiim in the air, the hordes who could not reach the vessel and swamp it were also involved in the devastation, for the Traîkhiim on the ship who were able to find bits of fungus and salt were throwing them outwards unto the fluttering swarm,and the Traîkhiim were throwing the food about with their agile necks and somehow in the chaotic and yet patterns throwing all of the Traîkhiim were able to snap and grab some food, and the Traîkhiim in the ship who were ripping out wood and wheel and door and wing were doing the same, they were throwing them outwards unto the flowing swarm and the outer Traîkhiim laughing all the while were in great grouψ grabbing unto the edge of pieces and throwing them outwards in brilliant squalls of ship shredding and tumbling wave and froth and sgeir storm, and the Traîkhiim about the crumbling sails and shattering oars and the crackling concourse of the deck were all ensorcelled by their own dance as they licked the pipes and gobbled up pipes and feasted upon the blue lotos and searched for fungus, and all of the Pèqlor dancers in the air were also spinning around in the same strange and wondeorus dance.
Puîyus, the only Son of Íngìkhmar, the beloved of Princess Éfhelìnye was crying out louder and louder still, with one arm cradling slumbering Princess Ixhúja close unto him with his other arm he grabbed Traîkhiim after Traîkhiim in a vain attempt to get their attention, but they just laughed and fluttered and danced about him, and he roared louder and louder and louder still and the Traîkhiim were just spinning in huge helical patterns about him, they were all lifting up their left wings and now their right, they were all piouretting upon the very tips of their finger-toes even as they flowed in the air, and kicking aloft they danced about Princess Éfhelìnye and about the towers and billows of the umbrella ship and were duckdiving and leaping upwards again and again and again, and Puîyus was roaring now and screaming in a deep and terrifying dracontine voice in an attempt to get their attention, and he kept putting his hands o'er Ixhúja’s ears so as not to awaken her, but she remained sound asleep, for although sleeping she could sense that was not in any immeditate of falling and being smashed and squished, and the loud storms that flowed outwards from Puîyus’ throat did not bother her too much, and as Puîyus cried out in a brilliant and rushing storm, the tens of thousands of Traîkhiim in the air were scattering about him like so many autumnal leaves slipping from side to side, and they all spun their heads towards him, and then laughing just began to dance faster faster and faster still, so that all of the rainbrella ship and all of the teaming heavens below and around and above it were huge twirling helices of dancing Traîkhiim adancent.
– May the new Sun and Moon spin for eternity and a day and four sevenths, dance dance dance dance dance! – laughed the Traîkhiim in the air.
– Behold the Royal Couple who have gifted us with xhyóqha fungal spores! – sang the Traîkhiim upon the umbrellas ship even as they were tearing it apart.
– May the Immortals lead the marriage dance for Emperor Puîyos and Empress Éfhelìnye! – sang Aîya as she gobbled up the rest of the huge fungal chunk.
– We sing! – cried all the rest of the Traîkhiim.
– We clap! – sang Aîya.
– We dance we dance we dance to that! –
– Puîyos! – cried the strophe.
– Éfhelìnye! – cried the antistrophe.
– Fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa! – sang all of the hundred thousand Traîkhiim. – We dance in the light of Xhuî the Great Grand Dance of the Stars! We dance in the shadow of the Khwatítso Hoop Dance and the Xhilpòqlan Ghost Dance and the sacred Tsaikhoaqhóqho waddlee aughtcha, waddlee aughtcha, doodle·ee, doodle·ee do fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa! Dance all the Traîkhiim the Lyuî Khafhrùrlupa the Dance of Life and Death and Rebirth Khafhrùrlupa Lyuî Lyuî Khafhrùrlupa fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa! – thus sang the hundred myriads of the Traîkhiim.
Princess Éfhelìnye looked around. Massive shadows were crossing the Traîkhiim in the spinning towering acrobatics about her, the shadows falling upon her face, and drifting about her she could see the outlines and massive tendrillar warships flowing vast implacable cold and majestic out of the cloudhills, and yet the Traîkhiim all about her continued to dance and spin around faster and faster still, and beneath her she could hear the sound the rainbrella ship struggling to remain in one piece, its great pipes and motors cracking and freezing, and she wondered a little whether the Monsters within the Labyrinth had not been the Fhàjhati onehorned but rather the untamable brilliance of the Traîkhiim volk themselves, but she dismissed the thought even as it came unto her, for she loved Fhólus and all of the rest of the Traîkhiim whom she had met, and she knew that earlier in the day Puîyus had worked very hard to try to tame and hellenise the Traîkhiim within the reservations of the Qhíng mandate, and how could she not adore a people who did nothing but dance and sing? The monsterous vessels were bursting out right about them, and she tried to get Puîyus’ attention, but he was getting lost in the swirls of the Traîkhiim holding him upwards, the Traîkhiim breaking apart into massive flowing helices of dance and rising and falling about the shredding rainbrella ship.
Puîyus yanked himself away from the Traîkhiim that held him, and for a moment just tumbled through the air, for he was desirous to set foot again upon the deck of the ship, he thought that he could roar unto the Triîm and order them toleave the ship and pirates alone, for after all he had been the warrior who had saved their people before, and the tushed and neuter Qhaôtriim Elders the memory and wisdom of the people had told him many times that the Children of the Nomothete still owed Puîyus a debt of honor, and so they were bound to obey him, and anyway Puîyus knew that if the Traîkhiim tried to withstand him, to stop or struggle or fight against him in anyway, that he could conquer them just as he did with any other wild beast or man or army or monster. He spun around in the air a few times, Ixhúja’s brilliant golden tresses flapping in his face a few times, but before his feet touched the edge of the xhmànxha embrasure kavádekhsome, several limbs wrapped themselves about him and yanked him back upwards, and flowing rainbow wings were spinning about him for a few moments, and the Traîkhiim were drawing him back upwards. And before his gaze he could see the wrack of the once brilliant and wonderous Rainbrella vessel, which Captain Euqliîna and stolen from the hand and tentacle of Uncles Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho and which had been born anew in the dreams of Princess Éfhelìnye and made far more magnificient than it had e'er been before.
And so it was that Puîyus was witness to the first deathknells of the Sqòqhi umbrella ship, for the Traîkhiim screaming and leaping and kicking were breaking apart all of the skiffs and throwing aside the bones and wood and skeletons of it and were shredding all of the solar sails, and the Sqòqhixing cried out in its death agonies, and the Traîkhiim were flowing outwards unto the long shuttle boats and ripping apart the sides and length of it, and the long boats were crumbling apart in the violence of their dance, and the tsenàsqoqhi were quivering as the Traîkhiim were come in their tremendous numbers and ripped open all of the boards and the rooms and sides, and the Traîkhiim skipping about were weighing down the fins and tendrils and rudder of the ship so much that they all began to snap off one by one by one, and the Traîkhiim just laughed to feel the harmonies and dance of the ship expressed itself thus, and the Traîkhiim feral and in a fey mood were swirling upwards in such massive numbers that all of the reams and sides and floors of the ship were collapsing, the diases were no longer rotating upon their central axes, the floors were burst apart, and the cabin exploded because of so many of the dancers ripping apart the wall and bed and columns and sitting upon the ceiling, and the ship was groaning its last as the Traîkhiim were ripping out all of the pipes and wheels of the motors and bit through all of the bellows, and slowly the great heart of the rainbrella vessel came to an end, and the ship quook a few times, and then the massive umbrella canopy slowed and stopped beating, and the ship was floating completely still in the air.
A dark shadow fell upon the helices of Traîkhiim who were carrying Puîyus and aslumbering Ixhúja, and Puîyus was glad at least that she remained still and quiet and next to him altogether safe, for he was not sure of what was going to come to pass. He shoved aside the flying Traîkhiim who held him aloft, for he was hoping he could land upon the rainbrella ship and shout out unto Captain Euqliîna and Qìtien the Acolyte and the fantabulous lwúnìqte and bid them to abandon the vessel and seek the emergency jhuîxhyong that were in slightly better shape and which had not been completely destroyed by the ravaging dance of the Pèqlor folk, but Puîyus could see, as the shadows completely engulfed him, that many of the pirates were already managing to make their way to the last of the escaping vessels, and although he could not yet see the Captain and Acolyte of the fantastic beast, he knew that they had to be somewhere within. He did not have long to search though, for the shadow lengthened about him and all of the Traîkhiim ærial and spinning around him-phi, and the tendrils of monstrious vimāna vessels were come, and great rostra bursting well and outwards. Of a sudden brilliant shafts of light were appearing within the darkness. The dance and singing of the Traîkhiim was still the loudest sound coming unto him, but now flowing into it came the sound of huge vimānavessels bursting out of the clouds and light appearing and lancing from side to side. And the Traîkhiim began to scream in horror, their cries louder and shriller and altogether xenian.
Puîyus could see at first a few prickling explosion arising about some of the skiffs and now bursting up upon the already crumbling layers of the rainbrella vessel, and he was not entirely sure whether the Traîkhiim had careless and insouciant tripped o'er some of the pumping hearts and veins of the plasma cannons of the ship, but seeing several sparkles of fire arising about the towers in places largely unconnected to the weaponry, he thought that that the sqòqhi takbekEged must be under attack. The huge canopy of the rainbrella was frozen and still, the entire vessel looked like some strange frore fungus floating high within the firmament ways, it was sad and dead and the Traîkhiim were crowding all of the regions of it, and Puîyus could see fleeing away from the vessel the skiffs and the pirates leaping and hanging unto them, and Íngìkhmar’s Son wiped a tear from his eye to think of the death of such a brilliant peiratical vessel which had shielded and protected him and the Princesses twain for so long. Several more fountains of light arose. The huge rainbrella canopy grew bright, for a moment Puîyus was reminded of the violet and squamous umbrella which Great-Uncle Táto was want to carry with him. Several more archs of light appeared, and the rainbrella in rushes of light was incinerated at once. And the entire ship began to veer unto its side, thousands upon thousands of Traîkhiim hurled off of it, some of them crushed within the clamping wheels, others slipping upon their siblings, for something was firing upon them. Puîyus looked around. The Traîkhiim were spinning and dancing and circling the rainbrella vessel at the same time. Several more splashes of light appeared. Within a moment, even in the twinkling of the eye, about half of the fleeing skiffs ycrammed with pirates evaporated, and in the next eyeblink about half of the Traîkhiim dancing upon the winds screamed and their bodies became light incandescent, and within a moment they were nothing but dust falling down upon Puîyus and slumbering Ixhúja. And the dust was thick, the dust contained shreds of feathers and bits of bone, some of the dust flowing downwards had large severed chunks of Traîkhiim wing and limb calling about him, several gaping faces still open in the moment of agony, splashes of the citrus and achromatic xhepánga liquid which is like unto blood for this people, and Puîyus kept having to wipe away horrors of dust away from himself, the dust was falling all about him in flowing blankets cubits cubits cubits thick, and if it were not for the last four winters of extensive warrior training and his being reared up in a dispassionate and traditional and bellicose culture, the very idea of clouds upon clouds of instantly incinerated Real People would have filled him with paralyzing revulsion, but as it was all he could do was shaking his head and his flowing jacinth locks and keep the dust away from Ixhúja and look outwards among the Traîkhiim who were still flowing and dancing in the air and see that Éfhelìnye the Starflower Princess was still being carried somewhere above him. And at last as the clodus were breaking, and the rainbrella vessel lurched and began to explode and flutter its last, Puîyus could see the true scope of the horror come unto them all.
For the pirate and Traîkhiim and the Ámekhnóqhàxhmo the Children of the Land were finding themselves in the midst of a tremendous battle such as had seldom been witnessed by any of the Wise of the Great Races since the beginning of the ages. Titanic cityships were bursting out of the clouds, living ships spinning around in their own strange and spectral geometries, some of them all in the shape of bone and tentacle and others more in the pattern of triangles and wheels spinning within wheels and shooting shafts of light, and Puîyus knew that these living ships were like unto the same ones that he and the Princesses had espied within the ruins where bits of Khnìntha’s coastline lay, and pouring out of both of the vessels were raiding living ships such as as had attacked him before the strange and magnetic sgeir and flowing about them all were huge nets of brimming torpedoes exploding all throughout the welkin in e'er growing blossoms. And Puîyus knew from his knowledge of weaponsy that these were some of the lost vessels of the most alien Xakhpàlqe peoples, and they were so intent on firing against each other that they were barely even noticing that their stray light and glistening squeeeeebangs had with careless ease incinerated several tens of thousands of Traîkhiim and many pirates and half of a good and excellent vessel. But the Xakhpàlqe, vast and ancient and cool cared not and were filling up all of the cloudcoils with outgrowing splashes of light, filavobäξ twIygwyd and slashing in many directions at once. Puîyus was looking around and seeing a way to find Princess Éfhelìnye for now the Traîkhiim even in their ærial dance were panicking and he wondered whether at any moment he would simply be dropped, and although he had no difficulty at all in swimming for hundreds of leagues without even the need for rest, he knew he would have to carry both of the Princesses, and take them unto the fjords of Syapàkhya and sanctuary thereunto. He ululated a few times in Éfhelìnye’s direction, but everything was a flutter of confusion, the Traîkhiim were flapping their wings and screaming, plasma torpedoes were exploding all about them, the great cityships of the Xakhpàlqe were crashing one against the other and gnawing biting rending each other asunder, tentacles and fangs lashing, and pirates were crying out as they fled the accidental destruction of the once great and legendary rainbrella ship.
– Mew! – Puîyus cried out to Éfhelìnye.
– Puey! – cried Éfhelìnye, for the Traîkhiim that were holding her were spinning upwards higher and higher and taking her away.
– Mew! – Puîyus cried out, as sparkles of light flowed about him. At once several elevens of Traîkhiim around him were reduced to dust, and he was horrified when he inhaled a few of them and had to spit them out. – Mew mew mew! –
– Help me, Puey, they’re taking me away! – cried Éfhelìnye.
– Save the Empress save the Empress save the Empress! – screamed Aîya.
– Mew! – screamed Puîyus, and half of the Traîkhiim holding him in the sky were incinerated at once, their feathers exploding into flames, their bones, ribs, skulls outlined for a few moments and then their flesh evaporating.
– Puey! – screamed Éfhelìnye.
– Empress is like limb and head, but Emperor is clothing, worn today tossed aside – Aîya chanted.
– Mew! – cried Puîyus as several more Traîkhiim came bursting upwards and tried to hold him upwards, even as the Xakhpàlqe vessels were grinding and exploding and everything was scalding light, and the Traîkhiim tried to hold him upwards.
– Puey! – Éfhelìnye struggled and held her hand out in his direction, but the Traîkhiim were already dragging her away and flying her to safety. – You have to come with me! Traîkhiim! Obey me! I am the divine Empress … –
– SAVE THE EMPRESS! – screamed the remaining tens of thousands of Traîkhiim.
– Mew! – gasped Puîyus as he held up his hand, and all of the Traîkhiim spinning about him were burning alive and dropping him from grasp to grasp in their deaths, and he found himself spinning around fleet away from Éfhelìnye, and no matter how he tried, he knew that no matter how he could leap off of solidic ground or wave, that flight was denied unto him.
– Puey! – gasped Éfhelìnye, tears falling from her and drifting down through the battle and landing untowards him.
Puîyus cried out – Qwasáta! – and said the name that he had given unto Éfhelìnye when they had met each other for the first time in the Forbidden Gardens and shared their first kiss, and the Emperor had sealed their fate unto them. And although they were being wrenched apart in flame and light and storming battle high within the heavens, although tens of thousands of Traîkhiim were being burnt alive and their dust falling upon their brethren and into the waves, although endless torpedos and bombs were exploding all about, and ancient implacable vessels bursting out of the clouds and burning all things, Éfhelìnye still looked downwards and smiled a little to hear Puîyus call her by name and speak a word in Babel in Khlìjha the divine language of Men and Spirits and Immortals alike, the very alchemy of Creation.
– I love you, Puey! – Éfhelìnye gasped.
– Qwasáta! – Puîyus called.
– LWAAA! – came a cry somewhere around them.
– What was that? –
– ?? –
– LWAAAAAAA! –
– Puey, you don’t think … –
– ¿¿ –
– LWAAAAAAAAAAA! –
Ho apò mēkhanē̃s peirātḗs
Pīrāta ex māchinā
– Lwa, my bairnlings! Lwa lwa lwa lwa lwa! –
– It can’t be, Puey … can it? – Éfhelìnye wondered.
And Puîyus could only shrug as he was spinning around and around all of the Traîkhiim screaming and burning and tumbling all about him.
– Lwa, make way for the illustrious pirates Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho! – came a very familiar voice.
– That’s Xhnófho and Fhèrkifher, you big chowderhead! – came a second very familiar voice.
– Here I come! –
– Stupid Qlùfhem ship! After this I’m going to need a good stiff drink. Perhaps two or three … –
Princess Éfhelìnye was spinning around and around in the air, in the explosions of descent of light and ash she could no longer see Puîyus nor the clouds and battle at all save as abstract realizations of blossoming light, nor could she quite see the forms that matched the voices. Suddenly out of the lances and bursts of light a rope appeared and materializing about it came a threadbare cloak and an hexagonal mortar board cap, and a rather thin man swinging out through the bursts of light. Uncle Fhèrkifher came spinning downwards even as the Traîkhiim were dashing about and burning and at the upswing of his swing he caught up Éfhelìnye and Aîya into his arms and swayed up through the bursts of light.
Pirato el la maŝino
Khmeníwa xhrir xhmìnyi
– Lwa, I’ve got her! – Fhèrkifher screamed.
– I’m heading down! – came Xhnófho’s voice somewhere above in the bursting light. – Good thing I’m sailing, I’m the only one crazy enough to sail into such an heavenly frey! –
– Forgive my abrupt manner, oh Cælestial Empress! – Fhèrkifher gasped. – I’m getting Master Puîyos, formalities later! –
– Oh Uncle Fhèrkifher, is this really you or am I dreaming! – Éfhelìnye gasped and wept.
Fhèrkifher swung upwards and just as he came to the height of his swing he made a ritual mudra into the lancing light and darkness, and for a moment Princess Éfhelìnye found herself whisked away, all of the heavens blurred and changed, and suddenly they were no longer high within the raging clouds but several leagues lower, and the sound of the crashing waves arose all the louder and fiercer, and spilling all around them came the raiding vessels and brilliant clouds of ash and dust of the Traîkhiim victims, and diving about them the shadow of Puîyus and Ixhúja descending in darkness, and the two children were like comet flames spinning about each other.
– Ah, this will be easy – Fhèrkifher gasped. – When I see Master Thiêfhilos again, perhaps gently I remind him that my training in the Seminary did not include rescuing cometflamed children above boiling seas below flaming skies, although I hardly think that Thiêfhilos will care what I think. Are you comfy, divine Empress? We’re swinging upwards. This is going to be fast. –
– Is everyone alright, Puey’s Sisters and Father? – Éfhelìnye asked. She could feel that Aîya was trembling and hugging her, so the Princess added – Is Fhólus alright too? –
– Short story, yes yes yes. Must hurry. We’re going to try and capture Emperor Puîyos before the next wave of exploding light hits him. I’m far too unhyper for a stunt like this. – Fhèrkifher looked around, all of the seascapes shifted and merged as he swung upwards. Éfhelìnye looked upwards and saw a dark blur above them and thought that it must be the vessel holding Fhèrkifher and his rope upwards, but it was so insubstantial she could not rightly see. – Forgive me, Empress, but you may want to hold your breath for this. –
Éfhelìnye clasped both hands o'er her mouth. Fhèrkifher swung upwards and then down and began shouting out – Lwa lwaaa lwaaaaaaa LWA! – and soon he was arising upwards higher and higher and higher in his swing, and thousands of splashes of light were appearing all about them, for a moment massive vimāna vessels peering out of the heavens and firing in all directions, and it were not for the battle and danger and the horrific speed of it all, in another circumstance Éfhelìnye would have been tempted to lean out a little and cheer all the while. But as it was, everything was warping and bubbling, the light growing far too swift and bright, and it reminded her of the dilations that flow about clockweyth trains as they jaût and travel at light-speed. And for a few moments Puîyus and Ixhúja was spinning around, long comet streaks bursting out around them, and in the next blink Fhèrkifher was swinging upwards on his rope, and holding Éfhelìnye in one arm he snapped up Puîyus and Ixhúja into his other arm and together they all came soaring upwards higher and higher into the air, light descending all about them and screaming.
– Hail, divine Emperor! – Fhèrkifher nodded. – Honored Grandfather Thiêfhilos and revered Sieur Íngìkhmar have sent me. No time to explain. A lot of important people are looking for you, and you both, or you three I see, have become all caught up in a battle of monstrous porportions. –
Princess Ixhúja stirred a little in Puîyus’ grasp, but he soothed her and tried to keep her asleep and made some sounds in her ear to tell her that there was no need for her to awaken yet, and looking around Puîyus and Éfhelìnye grinned and looked to each other and felt truly safe for the first time since they had left the welkin fleet of glass and hot air balloons.
Somewhere in the shadows above them Xhnófho leaned out his head. – Do you have the Tusùrthir, the Royal Couple? –
– Aquired! – Fhèrkifher cried back.
– Now’s the truly fun part, and by fun I mean tricky and dangerous, and by dangerous I mean insanely dangerous, and by insanely dangerous I mean, I’m not even going to attempt to describe how we’re going to get out of this situation! –
– Oh, the adventures we have! – Fhèrkifher sighed.
– Perhaps the Immortals never intended for any of us to have very dull lives – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted – But to be part of their Story. –
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