Sunday, January 25, 2009

Who Can Possibly Understand Princesses

It was the movement of the Ravens that caught most of the attention of the Princesses Éfhelìnye and Ixhúja as they looked out through the shattering shell of the floating egg ship. The Ravens were descending in many differing flocks throughout the ancient and dying forests, some of the Ravens remained high within the heavens, they were bursting upwards in mounting triangular patterns, a few venerable patriarchs leading the flock and turning hithering thithering all the while, and then all of the murdher of the birds began to turn upon its side, as if they were undulous curtains on great beds being made high in the heavens, and the clouds were whisping shreds of pillows, and the Ravens in their labyrinthine sway were almost like needle and thread rising through loom and woof and binding the layers of this imaginary ship of sleep. Other flocks of ravens, the child Princesses could see, were spinning around the tips of the shattering trees, many of the old oaks and pines completely overweighed by the gravity of frost and icicles creeping about them, some of the younger trees were gasping their last and struggling to keep themselves upright, and some of the trees that best remembered the days of peace back when Lord Kàrijoi the Master of Life had blessed all of earthand sea and sky and an Empress had sate beside him upon the Crystalline Throne Xhmèrpa, such trees were trying to bend themselves into creative and geometric shapes, into triangles and coils and even more adventurous hexagraphgons, so that even as they were freezing and dying, at the last they could present themselves into iceclad visions of wonder. The ravens were slipping about the branches and popping through the icicles, entire nations of corvids were resting themselves upon the breaking limbs and gazing from side to side with large blue eyen, and as the Princesses passed high above them, the flocks, hundreds of thousands strong, were yfilled with the ravens all turning their heads at once and glaring at the children, and the flocks were arising in long and thrawn walls for to let the egg pass down in the midst, the flocks were almost become like intestines and tentacles formed of endless living cells each cell of which was a bird arising and calling out and clicking all the while with golden beak. The egg came spinning downwards through even larger viceroy kingdoms of the holy Raven birds, bringers of dream and illomen and fay fancies and doom and battle and sometimes even love at first sight, the birds which were able to flicker among the Mortal Realms and the edge of sleep and death and dream, the birds which could travel outwards among all of the thresholds of the realities. And then all at once, so it seemed unto Princess Éfhelìnye and her cousin Princess Ixhúja from the land beyond, that the flocks themselves were all turning at the same time and twining of their own accord, the Ravens arising, all of them detecting something far away, a glimmer of something, a smell, perhaps some dreams left adrift upon the insubstantial winds, and they all came bursting upwards calling all the while. Éfhelìnye had no idea why all of the Ravens were turning at the same time, but she could see that Ixhúja was turning her head in the same direction, her face grown still, her eyen were large, she was listening. Éfhelìnye remained as still as she could, she did not wish to disturb her cousin whose senses were præternaturally kean, and who could see and hear subtlies of afar, although the Starflower Princess was not entirely sure just how much she actually could disturb her cousin, for the Ravens were now arising in far greater numbers than the children had seen before, the beating of their wings and the snapping of their golden beaks was a loud bombination, and some of the waves of Ravens were coming so swift and thick that they were crashing against each other and against the ship itself, a resounding of feather and wing and the slight susurrations that sounded a little like the nose fife. Ixhúja was leaning o'er the edge of the vessel, she was cocking her ear to one side and listening to something far away, and she clammered a little upon the crumbling shell that remained as the outer wall of the ship and was leaning o'er unto one side and the next. Éfhelìnye came to her and took her by the hand and pulled her away from the ledge, she did not wish for her cousin to be so absorbed in listening to the whispers of leagues away to tumble down the side of the ship and into the growing flocks of Ravens. Éfhelìnye looked around, the Ravens were in such numbers that they were filling all of the air above and around her, and looking down she could see that they were come through the ruins of many old forests which had stood for a thousand generations before she was born, long and winding shadowgroves and tall patriarchs of the words and gnarled pfhóla trees reaching outwards and scraping against the skies. At length the Ravens began to part a little and reveal the crumbling grey clouds blanketing above them, and in the shafts of light that appeared and melted within the whisps Éfhelìnye could see that some slight snowflother and iceflurries were breaking apart and spinning around enwhirlent, that rustles of light and shadow were appearing and revealing snow falling and catching the side of Raven wing and drifting around the towers and disappearing far beyond. At length Ixhúja turned to her cousin and rubbed her hands together and lifting them up told Éfhelìnye in gestures and blinks, Battle lay before us. The Ravens go to feast.
– Perhaps it is best, then, that my Puey remain asleep – Éfhelìnye chanted. – If the battle has already been fought, and if the Ravens arise to feast upon so many of the shamed dead, he may grow concerned and try to gather up the bodies and burn them, so that no dishonor may touch the litches, so that no Raven may eat the flesh. –
No bone fires are burning upon the horizon sea, oh my cousin, so Ixhúja was telling Éfhelìnye in a silent language. If there had been survivers, at least some tlhaô, some flagurs should be sparkling. The dead must be countless, in numbers untold. It would be best for us to leave the Ravens alone.
– Puey may want at least to cast some dust upon them and pray for them, so that at the least the Dead not be completely unsepulchred. –
We may not have a choice, Éfha, the ship travels in its own direction, under the orders of our Peiratical patrons Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho. I think the ship veers aside from any battle it thinks may threaten us. Perhaps … Ixhúja turned aside in the midst of her gestaltic blinking, and watched the ice winds glisten among the pfhóla trees and among the tall patriarchs. All of the forest was rustling, as if great but unseen hands were combing it, the frozen trees and icicles and grasses crackling and parting. Most of the flocks of Ravens were disappearing from the children, tidal bores of the birds rising and falling in waves about the spinning vessel, but even the Ravens were parting a little, shimmering clear waves walking among them all.
Éfhelìnye turned back and saw that Puîyus was still asleep, and although Aîya the Traîkhiim was awake and fluttering upon her triples wings and springing from side to side, sometimes one of her heads twisted about and yawned a little and smacked its lips, and she skipped towards Puîyus a few times and poked him with the outer fingerfeathers of her wings, and sometimes she slipped away from him and floated about Ixhúja until she batted and punched her away, and then Aîya arose and swung from side to side about Éfhelìnye who petted and brushed and kissed her, and then Aîya spun around to continue her rounds by flying back to Puîyus and licking his face with a few tounges.
– Yes, I think it would be let Puey sleep through the flocks and ravens and dying forest – Éfhelìnye chanted. – Besides, I like it when he sleeps, he think he looks very cute, especially the way that his candy-cane tressed locks just billow about his face when he’s fast asleep, and sometimes I think, when his eyen are closed, and he is breathing that still serenity of dream, and his lips are parted just a little, I think that he is almost on the verge of actually speaking words of Language itself, perhaps in his dreaming mind he is not mute at all, but words and images and dreams all merge together into a single thought. Plus he’s just e'er adorable in his sleeping. –
There is something profoundly wrong with the billion, billion worlds when you can call the most the strongest, fiercest, and most terrible warrior who has e'er tred within the dreamlands of the living, Ixhúja struggled for a moment and tried to spell out the exact words her cousin had just used. Fhènti, fhùmfha, she spelt out. Cute, adorable, those are terms which one should only apply to a maiden, certainly not the mightiest of men.
– Perhaps I could call him tòplim, instead – Éfhelìnye chanted. – Bright, angelic, cute … although to be my Puey will always be fhènti and fhùmfha. –
He is at least very beautiful in his sleep. Although I still wonder, despite his beauty, what exactly was going through your mind that time when you glued your hand to his.
– I didn’t glue my hand to his! – Éfhelìney gasped, as large ridges were arising before them, and crashing down the sides of them were dead trees being crushed by the weight of the frost and ice, and the death of the soil itself that had held the roots. – I thought I made that perfectly pellucid in my tell, I simply changed the harmonic magnetization between his palm and mind, the small amount of adhesive I applied was only a slight conduit to keep the edge of the skin unharmed. Sometimes I wonder about you, my dearest cousin, and your inability to conceptualise these easiest of experiments. – She turned back to watch Puîyus in his sleep. Aîya was crawling upon Puîyus chest and one of her heads was reaching out towards his ear and she was rubbing her snout into it and muttering unto herself – I can’t hear his gizzard anywhere? What happened to his gizzard! Did his gizzard stop beating? I wonder about him them sometimes the these inscrutable aliens! –
– I like the way his eyelashes flutter a little in his sleep – Éfhelìnye continued. – Do you see how long and blue they are? –
You just like everything about him, Ixhúja murmured in the growls and purrs of the language of beasts.
– Is there anything wrong with that? No, hardly, it is a virtue in me. And besides, there is one aspect about him which I do not like at all, and that is his propensity to be rescuing other Princesses about especially when I’m right here. We do have to do something about this Princess problem, and I’m afraid I’ll just have to be wed to him and remind him every hour of every day that he is mine for ever and completely mine. It’s such a simple commandment of mine, it shoud be the easiest for all maidens to obey. –
Ixhúja reached out unto one of the clockweyth insects that dwelt within the shean of her golden tresses, and taking it out and winding it a little, its wings were become as the teeth xùkhqiqi comb springing maincir open, and kemping her hair a little and licking her lips she told her cousin in a language of blinks and glasses, I told you before that every maiden in the world who meets Puîyos will have some affection for him, it is just natural, he is strong and beautiful, it is the way of the worlds, and a maiden who has actually been rested by his hand from some wild beasts or fell monster or quantum dæmon, or even the Immortals forbid, a Dragon, she is quite liable to be remember him for the rest of her days. In may world the xhiîqla alchemists datuvals maystroj have been crafting gear and pulley and spring together for many an age, they have perfected the art to such an extent that the ecosystems of our land no longer function without clockwork creatures and partially biomechanical trees and other blendigns of machinery and life. And yet despite all of the marvels of spring and clockwork, despite the insects of our worlds being completely of machine for the last three thousand generations, none of the Tánin Automata have e'er been in the shape of a Real Person, and even in their natural state of clockwork and wheel, and they arise from the tables of their masters, the Tánin we always consider to be masculine.
– Yes, that’s also a rule of grammar – Éfhelìnye chanted. – Masculine pronouns are used to refer to the clockwork Tánin, even though from a biological point of view they are genderless machines. –
It makes sense, clones of biological life are always female; the creation of life is always symmetrical. Nihilōminus, the Alchemists of Khnìntha have wondered about this, partially because sometimes the Viceroy queens fear that one day the Tánin will be able to grow flesh as we do o'er their skeletons of metal and be able to walk indistinguished among us all. The Alchemists tell us that shall never happen, clockwork is its own form of being and cannot become a Real Person. I have wondered, though, what it would be if my tutor slaves Táper or Tselèriter could have been of flesh. They would have been male of course, I suppose their joints might still have tick tock tick tocked as they moved, and I would not be surprised if they kept having to insert skeleton keys into their hearts and eyen to keep winding themselves. No Automaton could possibly be female though, but if it were possible if females of clockwork could walk among us indistinguished from the rest of us who are Daughters of Pfhentókha, it would be quite an easy task to determine whether their insides were of turning gear and wheel or whether of a beating heart. Ixhúja drew out a few more clockwork insects and turning their wings around used them to curve a few of her golden tresses and blinked to her cousin to tell them, Only the mechanical maidens would be unmoved by affection for dearest Puîyos. She set most of the insects aside and taking out Qìfhte her favorite rouage dragonfly, she pressed upon a few of his gears and extended his antennæ out unto little whisps and used them to draw out her violet eyelashes.
– Is that so? – Princess Éfhelìnye asked.
Ixhúja just shrugged in response.
– Although I’ve dabbled in inventions of mine own, and the ways of pistons and wheel, I did not grow up with the Tánin Automata, I could not guess as to whether they were capable of having affection for my Puey. Perhaps they deserve greater scrutiny than I thought. –
Ixhúja shrugged again and set the crawling dragonfly back into her tresses, and her clockwork insects crawled all about her and began sinking into her sheans of gold, although a few of them poked out, their compound eyen glistening, their mandibles twittering against each other.
– You seem to be spending more time than usual in combing your hair. –
A warrioress must always look her best in battle, her body is a trophy of war, Ixhúja smiled at her cousin.
– Indeed? Were you eyelashes trophies of battle also? –
I have quite lovely eyelashes. Ixhúja grinned and a few of her clockwork insects were crawling about her ears and gathering up long strands of gold and twisting them together into different lengths of braids, several insects all working together in an effort to create a most elaborate xhlùtsile, coiffure, a few queues now reaching about her ears, and longer layers spilling about her shoulders.
– If I did not know better I would think that you’re spending a great deal more time on our hair – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– ?? – Ixhúja wondered.
– If I were not greatly mistaken, it looks like clockwork comrades are greatly interested in your hair. –
Probably just a few gears lose, Ixhúja was purring and sighing unto herself. One probably should not disturb them, lest they shatter.
– If I be not terribly mistaken, I’d say your insects are emulating some of the fancing hairstyles of the maidens of Jaràqtu, in Puey’s own homeland, why that almost looks like the way that Fhermáta used to keep her treses. –
You’re no doubt greatly mistaken, Ixhúja nodded.
– Oh? – asked Éfhelìnye.
The forest was rustling below and all around them, as the egg ship came spinning downwards towards the vales that wandered about the frozen rivers. The trees in these environs were also crackling and dying, some of the trees no longer had protective bark about them, but just layers of coiling ice reaching upwards and grasping at the branches, and every few moments a trunk would begin to splinter, and branches weighed down by ice were falling, and sometimes hills were breaking apart and sliding down to accompany the death of the trees.
Ixhúja ran her hand through her locks and let them bounce about her. I’m quite sure that Puîyos would approve of such a coiffure, it’s very traditional, tradition and family means so much to him.
– I’m quite sure he liked your hair the way it was before – Éfhelìnye chanted.
I can’t help it that I look like the well-zoned flavicomous maidens of his people. Let’s ask Puîyos whether he likes my tresses held up and braided in such a fashion.
– No, let’s not bother him with such trivialities, shall we? –
The leaves and ice of the forest were rustling, and in the sound of breaking wood and ice the maiden princesses did not notice that Aîya was fluttering up before them and behind them Puîyus was arising from sleep and taking up his dreamcloak and beshaking dust and shine and dreams out from it and clasping it about the golden torq about his neck.
– Ask him what ask him what ask him what what what? – asked Aîya as she fluttered up between Éfhelìnye and Ixhúja and bounced among them.
Do you think Puîyos will like my hair like this? Ixhúja smiled.
– Oh yes lovely hair yummy hair tasty hair may I eat some of your hair such scrumptious hair! – Aîya slipped up to Ixhúja and cried out – Must eat your hair so good to see to eat must eat! –
– I don’t think that Puey even notice’s a demoiselle’s hair! – Éfhelìnye piped, her voice squeaking a little. – He never talks about a maidens’ hair! Why are we talking about hair! Who keeps mentioning hair! Ixhúja, stop talking about your hair! –
Now how can I help myself, Ixhúja asked in a language of blinks and sighs, as she stretched up her arms and shaking her head let her locks flow all about her in coils aurelian and labyrinth spilling. One can hardly blame me for being concerned. On a completely different subject, and this has nothing to do with my hair by and by, is it true what my cousin Princess Qlenólakh was saying about Puîyos?
– What did she say, I demand to know! – Éfhelìnye gasped.
Oh, nothing ….
– Ixhúja! –
– So, do I get to eat your head feathers or not? – Aîya was asking as she kept darting her heads towards Ixhúja and licking her tresses and clockwork insects crawling up and down.
It’s … just a trifle … Ixhúja giggled to herself. Just the rumor that Puîyos has a prediliction for golditressed maidens, and most especially for auricomous princesses …
– That is most certainly not true! – Éfhelìnye gasped and she began advancing towards her cousin. Ixhúja just grinned, although she took a backwards step towards the edge of the shell railing of the ship. Aîya fluttering about the Princesses for a few moments and then came slipping up towards Ixhúja and was wondering whether the golden tresses tasted like delicious funguses. Éfhelìnye thrust her face right to Ixhúja and hissed – I’ll have you know that my Puey has always been quite complimentary of my sunset rubescent tresses! Whenever I’ve asked him to compliment me, he’s always been quite eloquent in my praise! –
Aîya dipped a couple of her heads to Ixhúja’s braids and mumbling – Yummy yummy yummy! – with her free mouth bit a couple of times before Ixhúja, without even looking up, yanked Aîya by her throats and slapped her across the faces and gave her a look that meant, Do not touch my beautiful, princessly and Puîyos-approved hair!
– Puey likes my hair better! – Éfhelìnye whispered.
Ixhúja laughed and blinked a few times as if to say, Let’s ask him. Puîyos! Puîyos!
– Shhh! Hush! –
– Purr purr purr! –
– Ixhúja! –
Puîyus finished beating out stray dreams from his cloak and looking up approached the maidens and gave them a quizzical look. Éfhelìnye and Ixhúja at once pulled away from each other and held hands, and Ixhúja even stopped strangling Aîya and let the Traîkhiim tumbling downwards and gasp and crawl away.
– Mew? – Puîyus asked.
– We were just talking … – Éfhelìnye chanted.
Ixhúja nodded.
Puîyus scratched his head, he had thought that they were about to ask him a question.
– Question? Question? No question at all, no, nope, nothing at all? – Éfhelìnye smiled. – Isn’t that right, my loyal Cousin from the troublesome side of the family? – Ixhúja made an unreadable face, but Éfhelìnye stomped on her foot and nudged her in her hips, and Ixhúja just shrugged.
– ?? – Puîyus asked.
– We were just surveying the deadlands about us, oh my beautiful and strong and brave Puey – Éfhelìnye chanted, and she came up unto his arms and wrapped her arms about his neck and let him smell her breath all of sugar and cinnamon arising untowards him. She shook her head and let her tresses golden and red spill out from side to side, in wonderous waves, and sighing a few times chanted – I’m sure in your sleep, in your adventurous dreams you were dreaming about the flowing rondures of my hair, the drifting tresses, the bursting locks, the shine of sunrise and sunset, the bursting of golden light, and long and billowing fields all of rose. – Éfhelìnye reached up and ran her hands through Puîyus’ jacinth hair, and then grasping his hands let them touch some of the rhododactylous curves falling down both sides of her head.
Ixhúja pulled herself up upon the gunwail, her ankles were crossed, and she drew out a mechanical insects whose wings were opening up into a mirror, and turning her back a little to Puîyus, she admired both her reflection and him in the mirror. She sighed and reached out for a ribbon near the top of her hair and all at once her coiffure opened upwards, her hair all of spun gold drifting downwards and reaching all the way down to her waist. She looked back o'er her shoulder, and catching Puîyus’ eye winked to him.
– Don’t you just like the smell of my hair? – asked Éfhelìnye, and she stood up upon tippy toes and made Puîyus smell her tresses, and they were an heady mixture of all of the flowers in the world all blossoming at the same time. She breathed out a little and cascades of petals began to flow out from her tresses, and drawing her face close to his cheek she whispered – Wouldn’t you say that I have most beautiful, most perfect, most princessly hair of them all? – She reached o'er and drew closer and closer to his face as if about to kiss him.
Ixhúja jumped down from the ledge and waltzed towards Puîyus, and somehow several more tresses of gold fell down about her ears, and her hair was so fair that rippling halos were flowing out about her, and slipping up unto Puîyus and wrapping one arm about his neck Ixhúja was drawing herself closing to him. Puîyus gulped and closed his eyen and thought in his heart that if he lived to be as old as Grandfather Pátifhar, in all those centuries he would never learn to understand Princesses at all.
Suddenly right in the middle of Puîyus and Éfhelìnye and Ixhúja up sprung Aîya, coughing and wheezing and spitting a little at them, and looking at all three of them she chanted – Truth be told, of the three of you, Master Puîyos, he the prettiest one. I we they think he has the very best hair of all. So shiny and delicious! Puîyos, a nice vegetable, his hair a sprout, he should be eaten right up. Very pretty hair. –
Puîyos is not a maiden, one is unconcerned with his hair, Ixhúja told Aîya while she winked and shook her aurelian tresses towards Puîyus.
– I have the most princessly hair – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– Fine, then of maidens I have the loveliest of feathers! – Aîya squealed. She turned all three heads towards Puîyus, and the feathers of her head and neck expanded a little and became a glow of white. – Best hair! Best me! Puîyos, marry me! I love your hair! –
That’s it, you’ve chanted your stupidest, maddest, feyest saying yet, Ixhúja growled, and she yanked Aîya by her winged torso and dragging her into the middle of the floor, held her down and began bounding her in her neck and belly. Puîyus turned around to stop Ixhúja from doing that, and just as he was turning Éfhelìnye was springing upwards in an attempt to kiss Puîyus on his cheek, and so she was rewarded by grasping the air, as he swung around. Puîyus was picking up Ixhúja and separating her from Aîya. Éfhelìnye was tapping her feet and growing angry with both her cousin and Aîya from robbing her of a perfectly good opportunity to kiss Puîyus. Ixhúja was snarling and spitting as Puîyus held her up, and Aîya was bouncing up upon her three limbs and screaming all the while, her wings beating from side to side against both Puîyus in the air, so eager was she to bounce upwards and gnawing upon Ixhúja’s tresses for a few moments. Éfhelìnye sighed, sometimes it was just hopeless being with those two, Ixhúja is just so impulsive and ebullient, and Aîya is, how can one describe her, she is very Triîman I suppose. This is just intolerable. I had my lips all ready for a kiss. My cousin has no sense of timing at all. Have they stopped fighting yet? That’s it. I shall not have a perfectly good philema interrupted.
Puîyus was holding up Ixhúja with his right hand, and she was spinning around and trying to punch him even as she was swinging and kicking from side to side in an attempt to hold up Aîya whom he held up by a couple of her necks in his left hand, and she was beating her wings from side to side and smacking Puîyus in the face all the while, her free leg-arms reaching outwards and trying to poke Ixhúja all the while.
– She won’t let me eat her feathers! – Aîya was crying.
– GRRRR! – Ixhúja growled.
– I have the most prettiest feathers of all the maidens. Just let me bite Ixhúja a little! –
– GRRRR! –
– Don’t care whose head feathers you find prettiest, personally speaking just of myself. But, Master Puîyos, if not using all the feathers on your head, may I eat a few of them? –
Éfhelìnye ran up and threw herself into Puîyus’ arms with such force that he dropped Ixhúja and Aîya, and soon the Martian Princess and the Traîkhiim Child of the Dead were poking and scraping and rolling around each other, even as Éfhelìnye crawled up upon Puîyus and prepared to kiss him.
– All this talk is rather irrelevant, don’t you think? – Éfhelìnye asked. – We all know just how superior my hair is, in terms of texture, in shine, in movement and color. Have you e'er beheld a maiden whose hair was such a glowing mass of rose and sunset, whose hair was the very blush of the worlds? – She shook her head a few more times and made sure he was watching the raveling and writhe twisting of it quetzalhuītōlihui.
– Mew mew? – Puîyus offered.
– Yes, your Sister Siêthiyal just have lovely pink tresses, but I’d say that mine hair eclipse her, pink is just a part of the garden of my tresses, don’t you think? –
– Mew mew! – Puîyus gasped.
– Yes, I’ve seen drawings of your Grandmother Xhàtrajhil, and her roseate tresses – chanted Éfhelìnye, petals flowing about her ears and down her back. – But I think my hair is brighter by far. –
– Mew mew! – Puîyus cried. Ixhúja and Aîya in their wrestling, poking, chasing, and scraping rolled right o'er him and almost knocked Éfhelìnye o'er, but she staggered back up and pulled herself right towards Puîyus’ face.
– Yes, I’ve seen pictures of your Mother Khwofheîlya also. Enough talk. Kiss me! – Éfhelìnye puckered her lips.
– Mew! –
– The killer Automata hordes can wait. –
– !! –
– Just kiss me now! –
– … –
Puîyus pulled Éfhelìnye aside. All of the forest was rustling. Puîyus drew himself upwards and saw tha the egg vessel was spinning upwards all o'er a landscape of frost and ash all ymixed together, and the slight outline of walls and indentations of road and path from ages passed. Within the ravages of the war, glistening spheres were walking, claws and limbs crawling out from them, and the murmurations of wheel and clockwork spinning within. Some of the Tánin were carrying impaling spears and swords in their claws, and others were sharpening their own limbs, they were dented and cracked a little, war machines that had witnessed participated in battle and witnessed much more, and lnog streams of Automata Armies were passing through the banks of the vale, the Tánin mäikamen hastening upon their own errands.
Ixhúja and Aîya stopped biting and wrestling each other long enough to the Tánin arising, and although Ixhúja punched one of Aîya’s faces, and she smacked Ixhúja’s nose, they became quieter than they had been before. – All I can say, those mechanical princesses have the absolute worst hair of us all – Aîya whispered. – If I didn’t know better, say that not hair at all, but some sort of metal and wheel. –
Ixhúja poked Aîya’s snout and growled in a feline language as if to say, That’s because they are not princesses you brainless slave! They are automata, and of course they don’t have hair! Do you even listen to what the rest of us say? Do you even listen to what you say?
– Sorry, I don’t speak growl and belch and whatever that was supposed to be – Aîya chanted. – Translation! Translation please! Anyone here the talk with the words? –
– Killer automaton army marching just a few miles before us – Éfhelìnye chanted as she crossed her arms. – I’m sure that’s interesting. – She ran back to Puîyus and wrapped her arms around him and chanted – Kisses, now! –
– Mew! – Puîyus whispered.
– Fine, kiss now, than figure out what to do later! – Éfhelìnye closed her eyen and puckered her lips. Puîyus leaned froward and kissed her upon the forehead with kisses three, and then taking her by the hand drew her up to Ixhúja and Aîya and began whispering unto them all in a language of shadows and smoke and subtlies.
Ixhúja looked from side to side, Aîya and Puîyus were looking to her as the expect on clockweyth, and Ixhúja watched the movement of the Automata and the movement of their banners and at last turned and whispered in the same language wherein Puîyus had spoke and told them, Those are some of the Tánin that came pouring out from Khnìntha in our crusade to convert nature into mechanics so that the worlds may never die. In the early days of the war the Automata were loyal thralls to my Father the Warlord, but now that the matriarchies are shattered, and all of the sons are dead, and my Father is no more, I do not know where the loyalties of those Tánin lie.
– Puey, I know you’re saving up for a big and romantic and epic kiss about now, aren’t you? – Éfhelìnye leaned o'er and whispered to him.
Does one suppose that those Tánin are loyal to the Hegemony of Xhlaîra? Puîyus asked. When the Starflower Princess and I came to the Tubular Interweb Clockwork Web Hegemony of Xhlaîra Penyitàkhta a couple of wind up toy monstrocities were running it, and one is never quite sure of their loyalties.
– Puey, you can kiss me a few times now, and then if you have to go to battle, it will be all the better when you come back and I’m waiting for you and you can sweep up off my feet … – Éfhelìnye was saying.
My Father the Warlord thought that Xhlaîra was a threat to Khnìntha, Ixhúja was purring. He did not wish for the Automata to create a world without nature, he wanted them to create a world that perfected nature, that made it like growing steel and precious iron, not something completely barren. It is possible that the troops there may recognize me as Princess of Khnìntha.
– I find that a sweeping and mythopoeic kiss before battle is always best – Éfhelìnye chanted. – It would be dreadful to be a hero and not to kiss a beautiful philologist Princess before fighting an epic battle. –
– I can’t understand those two warriorlettes sometimes – Aîya chanted. – All sound like quack quack quack snort thump thwákh thwákh thwákh! –
The Pirates told us to rendevous with Grandfather Pátifhar, Ixhúja was whispering. That is our only priority. We can return and … Éfha! Stop it!
Éfhelìnye was kissing Puîyus upon his cheeks as soft as petals, and glancing to Ixhúja asked – Pardon? –
We’re in the middle of a war rede, killer armies before us, we might have been spotted, and all you can think about his osculating Puîyus! Ixhúja was asking in a rather frightful plantimalistic language.
– Kisses are important too. –
Battle is important! Can’t you concentrate?
– Dearest Cousin, I’ll have you know that I can concentrate on several items at the same time, I can concentrate on kissing my Puey, on some interesting words I’m composing, upon kissing my Puey, I’m composing a scene in my head which I shall transcribe when you’ve exhausted yourself from running around all day, and I can kiss Puey. That’s at least six things I can do at the same time! If you give a chess board, I can probably do that also. –
– That’s seven things – Aîya chanted.
Three of those items are identical! Ixhúja growled.
– That’s four things then – chanted Aîya. – Four, a rather yucky number. At least six of us here, my head, Puîyos’ head, my head, Éfhelìnye’s head, my head, Ixhúja’s head, my head, wait, that’s seven of us. Lo, seven of us! –
– Then I’ll have you know that a single one of my royal kisses is equal at least to three kisses that any other princess may hope to give! – Éfhelìnye chanted. – I just can’t help it that I’m just utterly superior in every single aspect of life which can be classified as pertaining to a princess. I’m the most beautiful creature whom Puey has e'er espied, my hair and eyen incomparable to all the other virgins of the Land of Story, I’m superior in dance and learning and writing and embroidery and … why are you laughing? –
Nothing, Ixhúja giggled.
– Oh? –
Ixhúja played with a few of her golden tresses. Nothing of importance.
– Oh. –
It’s just … you may not be interested in my observation. You don’t strike me as the curious sort.
– Oh, I am curious! Do tell. –
It’s merely a balductum, but it’s just been my observation that no matter how skilled you may be in embroidery and learned and dancing and good at sitting still and being quiet, I do have one attribute that you do not.
– And what’s that? – Éfhelinye asked through clenched teeth.
Puîyos just loves my golden hair? Ixhúja ran her hands through several tresses and let them flap from side to side. Aîya arose and began fluttering her wings and tried to escape, but it was already too late. Éfhelìnye was frowning, her brows furrowed. Ixhúja laughed and jumped upwards to strike her cousin and in the process caught up Aîya between them, and within a few moments Ixhúja was pounding her cousin and poking and tickling her, and Aîya was trying to get out of the way, her feathers were flapping all o'er the place, and for a couple of seconds the maidens forgot about Puîyus until he walked among them and yanked Ixhúja off of Éfhelìnye and had to restrain the Moon Princess for a few moments until she calmed down, and the moment he set Ixhúja down, Éfhelìnye ran up to him and flung her arms about him and chanted – I think I’ve been scratched! Hold me tight! –
Ixhúja turned to Aîya and made a little talking motion with her hands in mockery of her eastron cousin, and Aîya giggled and shook her elbows and spat out some feathers from her mouths and chanted – Yeah, the little Empress a little like that. Do you want to see my mimicry of you? –
– Grrr … –
– Maybe later. –
The air began to shake and shimmer, the clouds crashing together and making the sound of cannonfire, and as the vessel arose upon the valleys and endless streams of ninjitsu Tánin waddling outwards, Éfhelìnye looked out as she wrapped her arms about Puîyus and chanted – Perhaps we should start being concerned about these armies? – From the clouds came drifting flocks of ravens to obstruct their view, black wings arising and darkening the vales.

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