Thursday, February 12, 2009

Forgiving the Wounded

Puîyus looked down to his free hand and remembered when he had tied bows into Fhermáta’s hair, and then when he had seen the Qhíng burning her room down and tossing her dresses, fine and nesh upon the flames, and he thought about how sometimes forgiveness may be the most difficult quest of all. It was the deep of the night, and here in the qhìngqa camp made of nullaġvIk of bits of smoking dreadnaughts and shattered vessels and the endless effluvia of wherries and living ships and glass and hot air balloons bashed and sunk and crashed downwards upon the ruins of the Sword Mountain, here where the tent flaps were all breathing out with gusts of smoke twining upwards and becoming part of the cliffcreags, the glowering and sinking night appeared a meet and kairotic time for to contemplate such thoughts, to remember that which one did not wish to remember, to walk in the darkness of the souls. Éfhelìnye could see that Puîyus was very melancholy, his head was looking down, and although he saw the movement of the Qlùfhem shivering from tent to tent and the fluttering of the Ptètqiikh as they tried to escape the darkness of the night, Puîyus’ eyen were not drawing in the sight, he was not absorbing it, his eyen were sad and winedark and seeing only what lay within. It was part of the perplexity of being a mortal, Éfhelìnye thought, for mortals have a basic, most primitive need to remember and to create patterns of the memories, they have to tell the tales of their Ancestors in order to have a living family in the present, and all of these memories and patterns get woven together into the story of one’s life. And yet some of these memories are so incredibly painful that one is almost frightened unto death and bowed down before them, to sink back into the memories of war, to remember pain, how many memories must Puîyus have or being struck by knife and sword, how many horrors of war were left in his mind burning and never to be removed, how better it would be indeed if he could forget, and yet to forget would make him less of an Original Person. Immortals were an altogether different order of existence, their flesh energy and song, deathless and perfect they, time and space were their rainment, and they cannot say something which is untrue, nor can they forget anything at all. Memories were like unto their blood, they made them what they were. But then, she wondered, if the Immortals cannot speak a falsehood, why is it that Our Heart Raven was always playing so many tricks upon the rest of his Siblings? Were his tricks somehow true? Were they a different order of truth? Perhaps all such thoughts were irrelevant, since the sylvan priests were saying earlier in the hour that Our Lord Raven was dead, even though an Immortal Ásaru cannot die.
From afar came the thicker smell of smoke and incense, Éfhelìnye could hear that Puîyus was sniffing a little, his nostrils were remembering that incense was the smell of holiness and prayer and of the Sylvan Caste, and yet how strange it was to smell that and to know that even the priesthood was failing, that the ancient arborescent pillar whichby Khniikhèrkhmair the Prophet of Compassion had stablished the order of priests and monks and acolytes and vestal virgins of the sun, even that was beginning to crumble. Somehow it almost seemed wrong to be smelling incense and yet not hear the swaying of robes, the shuffling of sandles, prayer wheels and rosaries upon the cincture, and even the slight taste of mistletoe in the air. One of Puîyus’ hands was lifting up and making a sad gesture which could only mean, Aiyo’ akhan ei, alas and alack. His hands sometimes danced of their own accord and made little lroîxhmo cheremes without his realizing it. Éfhelìnye was quite used to it as well as the rest of the Sweqhàngqu Clan, and indeed when she had come to dwell with Puîyus’ family as a guest-friend she had noticed that sometimes when Fhermáta and Siêthiyal and Akhlísa were talking that one of their hands would also be moving in instinctive gestures, othertimes the Sisters would even be conducting entire verbal conversations and yet still their hands would be chattering all the while. Auntie Qtìmine had told the Princess that the Sweqhàngqu habit of talking with their fingers and hands and sometimes entire faces really originated with the Otòrfhexes Sisters, for Khwofheîlya and Qtìmine had been prone to mischief when they were little and needed way to communicate without their parents and elders knowing all of their schemes, and since Qtìmine Samájhi had always been very quiet and pious she had of her own accord learned the schemes of Taûsqo, the Sign Language which some Sylvans used, and her Sister had learned it from her at an early age. Many years later when Khwofheîlya was married and had children of her own, the Elders and the sákrodhots were grown concerned, for Puîyus appeared aware of all of the sound about him, he was chirming with the birds and chirping with the fishes, and yet he cooed nor sighed nor gurgled at all like other infants were want to do. Khwofheîlya however was still able to communicate with her Son very well even when Fhermáta was crawling about and chattering her name, even when Siêthiyal was beginning to pipe up, for Khwofheîlya and Puîyus were able to draw out signs for cookie and eat and milk and sleepy and various other ideas, and so as the next generation of Sweqhàngqu grew upwards all of them learned to communicate in Taûsqo even though all of the rest of them save for Puîyus were quite proficient in Khlìjha the Tounge of Men and Spirits and Immortals and Dragons. The children, however, for their part, were never quite sure how much of the Signed Language silent and balletic their Father Íngìkhmar was able to understand, for after all, the children realized as they grew older, he had known their Mother for many years before any of them were born and surely would have picked up upon a few signs here and there. Sometimes Fhermáta would catch a glimpse of Íngìkhmar spelling out a sentence in response to an Elder, or other times the Sisters might be arguing with each other with their hands, and when their Father came in at once they stopped what they were doing, for they were not sure exactly what he knew. Sometimes, when Éfhelìnye was living with the Clan, when she would help Puîyus feed and water the farm plantimals, she thought she saw Abbá Íngìkhmar signing unto his steed Stitlhàrkhlo and spelling something such as, What a nice day it is, or, We should go on a ride today, don’t you think? But she never saw too much of this, perhaps the signing itself reminded Íngìkhmar too much of Khwofheîlya who was lost unto him, or perhaps, and this was just as likely, Íngìkhmar never had a chance to practice his skills because of the endless bickering and scheming and bantering of his three Daughters. Puîyus brushed an hand against his locks of silvery and sad blue, one of his fingers was spelling out Oiyo’ okhon ei, Alack and alas, and his other hand was making a few vague motions which Éfhelìnye knew were not quite cheremes but which still conveyed some sadness within them. Pricess Éfhelìnye for her part had been able to read the motions and gestures and movements of the Sweqhàngqu with instant and perfect comprehension, she had not yet had a lot of practice spelling out the same khmárkha küpamal vinegön herself unto Puîyus and her Sisters, although she thought that it should be quite wonderous to do, a way to combine dance and language in a way, for she was eager to teach Puîyus to speak in the words of language. She thought that just being in Puîyus’ presence made her completely fluent in Taûsqo without any effort at all, but it may take her the rest of her lifetide to teach him to frame the murmurs of Khlìjha, ülpük väpük Hol ‘oghlu’pu’bogh, the nonsense fairy language prestine and ancient and beyond all time. Puîyus brushed an hand before his face, it was almost as if he were wearing a masque now, a mixture of fhròkhi alabaster and safhìpuqa ice crystals in the air. Khmaîpfher came slithering forwards and before him came several Qlùfhem rolling down the deck and roof of a ship which had fallen upside down from the skies and provided some rough shelter in the camp, and the Qlùfhem were parting and revealing before them walls of incense arising, the smoking scent of the sákrodhots, in a land where priests were fading.
– Please forgive the khmiyotùrka within – Khmaîpfher chanted as he bowed unto Princess Éfhelìnye a few times. – Although the gossoon here has been sanctified against the ritual squalor, the uncleanliness of death, it is not a view mete unto the eyen for one sinípwo, one skyborn as you are. –
– Wherever Puey goeth, I must follow – Éfhelìnye chanted.
Khmaîpfher turned to the Qlùfhem and they were scampering out upon the tips of their sphere-legs, and the rags that were leaning o'er the sides of these ruins were parting, and revealing deeper waves of smoke arising from within. Ixhúja was hopping from foot to food and wondering what she would find within, she thought about the laboratories and work stations within Khnìntha and she imagined vast and complicated rooms are builded around spinning wheels, and floating rooms of white where the healers were come and set the weak and ill and tired upon white beds, and shafts of white light came to bath through them and warm the flesh and sooth them, and the walls of khòkhpi lazarets malsanulejoj were overcrammed with niches of Saints of old gazing down upon them all and lifting up their holy hands, and even deep within the Clockwork Heresy within the darkness cast out of the Winter Empire, still statues of the Emperor remained and looked upon the doctors, although veils were set before the stern faces of Kàrijoi, or sometimes the statues were turned slightly askance, and yet still the dying thought that they could feel a little the presence of the Emperor among them. As the waves of incense were drifting about them, vague shadows were walking within. Ixhúja did not see shafts of machinery or turning wheels at all, just some Qhíng walking outwards and carrying in their tendrils several Sufhàltii whom they had founded fainted within the cold. Khmaîpfher turned and helped the children within, and soon they were walking into the upside down ship, all before them arose the smell of flame and sweat and blood and the soft sighs of the dying.
The men were lined up upon the floor, most of them had some sheets upon them, a few were bandaged, others were just tied to the sheets, and in the long rows the children could see lying before them some furry Xhlaûxher and some large Jhèngqekh struggling to breath their their trunks, a few quiverous Khnenyènwa, not a few Kurkuîlo wriggling in their carapaces, some Xaxhestàriqhe grinding their fangs, some Sufhàltii rolling from side to side, a family of Squîsar trying to arise upon their wings, and a couple of moaning Xhrùmpum whose voices were become part of lamenation of this place, and Khmaîpfher continued walking upwards, many Qlùfhem and Thùlwu and Qhíng huddling together before the fires and trying to stay warm through the night.
– Without priests there are none left to heal us – Khmaîpfher was saying. – Many were grievous injured in the crash of their vessels or in battle against the Dragons or even, I regret to say it, against each other. We Servitors have been trying to gather whom we could find and bring them here, we have found several urns and jars in the larger agnihotravimāna and will build up great fires to warm the peoples through the night. But I fear that many will not survive the frost that is to come. –
– I wish there were something we could do – Éfhelìnye chanted.
Ixhúja was wrinkling her nose and wishing that there were some juîlte mendicants among the people such as she had known in Khnìntha, for the juîlte sannyasins were the priests and machine keepers of her folk and were skilled at repairing both. She remembered though, with a pang of sadness, that all of the juîlte were dead now, for the Emperor had slain all of the males of Khnìntha and left it without any hope of family and descent. She looked to Puîyus and thought that indeed he would make an excellent juiltènthe, borb a bhiadail, he was as gentle and kind as the priests she had known in the Crimson Moons, and surely he could be the only one who could continue the line of that class. Sometimes she thought it would be her pious duty to become Puîyus’ concubine just so that she could bare him a daughter or two would could continue the Noble Line of Pfhaqhaîtsir and a son or two who could continue the Heretic Priests. But Puîyus could be stern, as stern as the cliffs that made up the Sweord of Syapàkhya, as rigid as the shattered living ships that now lay as wrack twined about the mountain, as patrician as the moai statues of Kàrijoi which she had seen many a time in the land she where she had been created.
A few wings and arms were reaching out unto the children, but the dead were careful not to touch them or come too close out of respect for these beings descending among them. Khmaîpfher of the Servitors of the most perfect Qhóng was for the first time not looking back and forth with fear aig afraid that Kàrijoi and his Dragons would come swooping downwards for to snatch the children away, for here among the dying he knew that those wihts who still remembered how the children of Xhámi looked would be happy to see them and would treasure these last few moments of life that they had. Several Xhmaûmumum were opening up their wings and turning their heads to the children and whispering – Save us. Help us. Bring us unto Paradise. – And some of them old Xhrùmpum, large and cold and shivering together, feeling the winter creeping into their bones were straining to see with their tiny eyen and were whispering – We know her. We have seen her in our dreams. It is the new Empress and her consort. Let us take this memory burning within our hearts and feed on it as we go to meet our Ancestors. – A couple of Sufhàltii were turning around in their blankets and lifted themselves upwards, they were gaping and smiling, and when they saw Puîyus and Éfhelìnye, they grinned one by one and closed their eyen and fell silent. Puîyus paused, and saw that the men had died, for in his years of training in the aristocratic classes of the Warrior Jarjhíxhoxe knew to recognize the death of any of the men of the Real People, be he Færie or Qhíng or Qlùfhim or Sufhàltii. A few Ptètqiikh were fluttering upwards and taking the blankets away from the dead to distribute among the living. Éfhelìnye watched for a few moments. Before this day she had never seen death before, before this day she had never seen the wounded or sick, she had never seen any man aside from Great-Uncle Táto and Grandfather Pátifhar, she had seen no other child or maiden and certainly no boy at all, and no alien dying in the cold in the midst of a war. Ixhúja was not disturbed by the death, she had died herself and could imagine all of the draining of sensations and the cold and the awakening shocking and bright into new life. And Puîyus turned aside, death was always a part of him, his earliest memories were of his Mother’s death, and he did not know how to forget them at all.
In the middle of the upturned ship lay a group of several Qhíng and Qlùfhem and Thùlwu all lying together, some of them in the same blankets, and sometimes a Qhíng was warming himself with some kindling and passing it to a some Qlùfhem, and in their midst the Ptètqiikh were fanning their wings together and trying to spread the heat outwards. Khmaîpfher’s breathing was growing more labored, the children could see the frost arising from his beak here in the chilled air. Some of the Qhíng and Aûm, as they saw the children, were turning around and extending their tentacles in their direction and were whispering one to another – Is that not how you imagined he would look, the Son of Heaven? It is chanted that his hair would be made out of sky, and his eyen would be the deep and sounding sea. Blood would be his lips, his movements like a panther or a dinosaur stalking its prey. He shall be the master of all that lies out beneath the skies, the Mandate of the Ancestors shall be his, his words shall be edicts unquestioned and holy, and even in life shall he pass into tale and legend and myth, before he dies and is interred in a sacred place, he shall already be a song of the people. –
Éfhelìnye saw that many of the Qhíng and Qlùfhem and Thùlwu were struggling to arise and bow before Puîyus, but they were wobbling upon tendril and sphere-leg, and so rather than upset them she ran up unto them and told them – No, please, just rest. Puey just wanted to say a few words o'er you. We are all very worried about what has become of the grand nations and viceroy kingdoms and civilizations of our world. –
– We are fallen from grace – the Qhíng were saying.
– Because of our lack of faith, Kàrijoi has turned his eye away from us – the Qlùfhem were saying.
– Doomed are we, for we are the unforgiven – the Thùlwu were saying.
– Forgive me, please, but none of that is true – Éfhelìnye chanted. She reached o'er and took a Qhíng by the tentacle and chanted – None of you, none of the poploe, no Mortal born of the thoughts of the Ása has fallen, we are all a single family. – She squeazed the tentacle and turning to a Qlùfhim brushed his rolling celia, he was shaking from the cold and fear and guilt but she chanted – Honored Kàrijoi still watches all of his children. I do not know why he does what he is doing, I cannot imagine what lies within his heart, but I tell you this, the Emperor is not abandoning us, he is just very sad and ill right now. – She reached up and brushed a Thùlwus by his antler crest, and his eyen were wriggling from side to side but she told him – We are not a doomed people. Not even the Immortals can stop the creation wherein they have breathed life. –
– I have done terrible things – the Thùlwus chanted. – I served with the most honored Duchesses. I delivered men unto our artists, and the men never returned. I fired upon those who were not our enemies. The new Emperor will never forgive me. I burnt forests that were lush and verdant. I took the Duchesses through plains and slaughtered the wild beasts. We destroyed things good and alive. The divine Son of Heaven will smite me down and all my people. –
– He will do no such thing – Éfhelìnye chanted. – You do not know Puey like I know him. –
The dying Thùlwus bowed the cluster of his eyestalks before her, and all around him the rest of the Thùlwu ashivering in their blankets all the while were falling down before her and whispering – Then you must beg Puîyos on behalf of our people, not to destroy us scion by staff by seed. –
Éfhelìnye reached o'er and kissed the Thùlwu one by one, since they had no proper faces she kissed them upon their antlers and necks and about their thoraces, and they shook and sighed a little to be so close to a divine Empress, and one who was Virgin Born herself. And at her kiss the Thùlwu began to feel hale once again.
– We were unfaithful to Kàrijoi – the Qlùfhem were saying. – We smuggled parts to construct forbidden machines. We hid wheel and clockworks in barrels of food, to make our weapons that Kàrijoi has forbade us even to imagine. And as is the custom of our people, as the Elders ordered me, I helped to infect our children with diseases so that only our strong offspring would survive, and strangers who came too close to our children could be infected with alien curses. Puîyos will not forget what the Qlùfhem Aûm are capable of doing. – And the rest of the Qlùfhem were shaking in agreement, they who had been soldiers and artists of their people, and who had not quite operated under the dictates of the harmony wherein Kàrijoi had set them. – Unfaithful to the old Emperor, faithless shall we be to the new – they were whispering one to another, with sad celia.
– Puey also remembers the beauty which your folk have created, the worlds of fractal and crystal, he spent some time with a Qlùfhem family and slept in their beds of air and ate at their table and listened to their matriarch telling stories about Khesáfha and Qlùfhim and Thùlwus. – Éfhelìnye’s thoughts were drifting out as she remembered something painful to her. – And in that time Puey and I even met a maiden child of the Qlùfhem, one just a few years older than I, beautiful and vivacious Jeûr. She was quite kind to us and eager to play with us and make us all a part of her family. To this day, her guestkindliness, her grace, is something which Puey and I remember, and that faithfulness we shall carry with us to the end. – She leaned o'er and kissed the Qlùfhem, and one by one they felt life returning unto them.
– And what became of little Jeûr? – asked the Qlùfhem.
Éfhelìnye was not fain to remember when the Qhíng had come in their terrifying vessels and poured out throughout the Qlùfhem cities, she did not like to think of the slapping of the tentacles about Jeûr’s celia, of the old and majestic War Master Xhnófho Kàrnaka arising and dragging Jeûr away unto the pyramid of sacrifice never to descend again. – She entered the protection of her Ancestors in the War – Éfhelìnye whispered.
– Our people murdhered her – the Qhíng were saying. – And Puîyos hates us the most of all. The Qhíng were once allies of Jaràqtu, both civilizations zealous in serving Kàrijoi on his Crystalline Throne. But the Qhíng have betrayed that trust. We murdhered that maiden, did we not? –
– I don’t remember … – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– I was there in the invasion and occupation of Jaràqtu – the Qhíng were saying with a single voice. – Illplanned from the start, doomed to failure, the attempt at conquest of Jaràqtu was horrible and expensive in xhmaûng shed and honor lost. I remember when the Qhíng burst into the heavens. I remember when the Jaràqtuns poured themselves out against the invaders. I remember when the cry arose, one of our armies, seven million strong, came passing through the cliffs and heading towards the north where the ancient plantations lay. We heard rumors that a single child was trying to stop the armor, a child dressed in a betrothal garment. We all laughed, our heart-stomaches chuckling. We would wash o'er the larva and burn all the land down. But this lad was like nothing we could e'er have imagined, he was not like a storm, not like a cycle of weather against us, he was a dæmon scattering phalanxes and ēoreds, and we were falling ten thousand at a time by his hand. He stopped the entire army by himself. A few of us survived. I was there. I remember it. We found his home and burnt it to the ground, we scattered the tsàtsesan kachinas down, we threw the remnants into the loch and despoiled it. We did not know that this lad would become Kàrijoi’s Son. And now the new Emperor will destroy all the Qhíng. –
– No he won’t, I promise. – Éfhelìnye took the tendrils of the Qhíng and kissing them one by one chanted – A man there is among the Qhíng, a rogue, a wastrel, a pirate whose heart-stomache brims with cheer, a man who would do anything for me and Puey, a man who has taught us more about what it means to be a Qhóng than any of the wars that the Qhíng have fought. All of you will live again, in the spring that shall come. –
– We destroyed the new Emperor’s home – one Qhíng was saying.
– With mine own tentacles I picked up the statues of his ancestors and threw them into the flames – another Qhíng was saying.
– I broke into the bower of his bride and burnt her dresses and smashed the walls – a third Qhíng was saying. – The new Emperor thought he slew all who came into his land, but a few of us escaped to tell the tale and warn the others of Íngìkhmar’s Son. I touched the sheets of the bride’s bed, I touched her combs, I threw them all into the fires … –
– The new Emperor cannot permit the Qhíng to continue existing – all of the Qhíng were whispering. – As a matter of honor, he must drive into extinction those who harmed his land and his first wife. –
Princess Éfhelìnye gathered up the tendrils of several dying Qhíng and stroked them, they were all turning unto her, their eyen were bright and red, their tendrils drooping, and although the Qhíng do not weep, the change of their eyen and antennæ are indications of the same lamentation within them. And brushing the tips of their tendrils and cooing unto them she whispered and told them – My Puey is no tyrant nor a dæmon, nor will he punish all your people for something that just a few of you did, especially on orders of those obeying the old Emperor. Puey does not think in the same way that the rest of us do, I should know, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out methods of communication with him. Please be assured that he does not hate you, he is capable of great battle wrath and a bit of overprotectiveness of the women in his family, but his heart does not smolder with any hatred. If anything, when the battle passes, he will feel a great grief for those families bereft of warriors. –
– It will be unto you, oh Empress that all of the prayers of the Qhíng shall be offered – so the Qhíng were saying. – It is upon your intercession that we shall rely. –
Éfhelìnye found that her face was lighting up a little, a slight ruby tinge upon her cheeks, and she turned aside and chanted – I do not wish any attention at all. You should look to Puey instead. –
– If you can cool his heart against our people, we shall set up statues of you in every township, in all of the cities your imagine shall be in pillar and in stained glass window, and our maggots shall be reared to sing songs of your praise, you shall be the Empress of all the Qhíng, and we shall love you more than we loved the old Moon Empress. –
– This is quite unnecessary – Éfhelìnye chanted. She covered her face in embarrassment, and then looking out again saw that the dying Qhíng and Qlùfhem and Thùlwu were bowing down before her and shuffling and whispering. – Although all of your peoples have ancient forms of governance, to my mind you here are like viceroy kings of your people, just wounded, just waiting to be healed. It is unseemly to bow to a child, an unmarried child has no rights at all. –
– Save for a child of an Emperor – the Qhíng were whispering. They drew their tentacles up unto her and beckoning her closer to their beaks whispered – If you save us from Puîyos, we shall build for you the foundations of the City which shall be New Eilasaîyanor, the new and Imaginary City. –
– I do not understand – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– The Writ speaks of the Imaginary City, the new one, and the Prophet called it Éfhelìnyatar. Is that not quite a descriptive name for New Eilasaîyanor? –
– It just means Place of Life or something like that … –
– It shall be your City, arising out of the reeds and flood, and all of our photonic arks shall wend thereunto. – And the Qhíng were shivering in the cold, they were pale and clammy, and yet being in the Princess’ presence made them feel alive again.
A few of the Thùlwu were beckoning unto her and whispering saying – You are almost unto the Northwind. The Dragons shall make one final attempt to capture you and drag you before your Father. If you can escape Syapàkhya, you can rest for a time. The Emperor shall not enter Jaràqtu. –
– Is my Father hesitating to enter the land of romantic warriors because of his loyalty to his vassel Íngìkhmar? –
– No, the Emperor will not enter a land as barren and useless of Jaràqtu, Kàrijoi prefers to remember it when it was proud and green, not before the Qlùfhem destroyed mountain and fjord and sky, and ruined all the peoples. – And the dying Thùlwu were shivering to hear such words come from their own celia, and they wrapped themselves up in the blankets, and yet were happy to see the new Empress with their nests of eyestalks.
And the Qlùfhem were drawing themselves up unto Éfhelìnye and whispering – Know, oh Empress, as we gaze out with the eyen of the dying, that the life of a mortal was not intended for happiness, it was to serve the Immortals with honor. Know, oh Empress, that honored Kàrijoi shall find you and the gossoon before the end, he shall capture you with his own hand. Know, oh Empress, that there is a prophecy concerning you, a prophecy perhaps made at the moment of your birth, a prophecy terrible enough that even an Emperor fears it, although we cannot guess what it may be. The Prophecy shall grasp you before the end. Fate finds maiden and immortal alike. – And the dying Qlùfhem were shaking themselves, their tentacles spinning and lithe, and they slid into their blankets and turned their eyestalks towards Éfhelìnye and gazed upon her in a mixture of adulation and wordless pity unending.
Éfhelìnye looked around, she could not think of anything to say, and she saw that in the center of the dying Khmaîpfher was standing, and beside him Puîyus was returning with a small chalice. Just a few moments before Khmaîpfher had told him – Forgive me, I do not know all of the ways of the arboreal priests, but I thought it would be mete to scatter some wtsèpe some holy water unto the wounded and to say some prayers. Perhaps, as one who was an acolyte, you could gather some frost into the goblet, you will know what to do. –
Puîyus took the tlhutlhùlwu grail and left the wounded and coming outside the tent looked to find where he could gather some icicles and frost and crush it together. But once he was away from the sick, he found herself leaning against a tree, a cold and petrified and dead tree which had frozen to death in the horrors that only a cremad can know, and he found himself whelved by exactly the same types of emotions which were forbidden unto one who strove to be a perfect tralujàrqta, a kensei dragon warrior, for the wounded were reminding him a little of the death of his Mother and moreso of Fhermáta taken away from him, and who now as Ancestress kept her back to him. He struggled for a few moments, but despite his strength strong enough to shove houses down and rip out towers and kick hills as if sand and mud and to catch living ships in mid flight and to pound against the scales of Dragons, he could not stop the coming of his tears. Swift and hot and salty they came, they trickled in freshlettes down his cheek and dribbled into the tlhutlhùlwu dravadoné in his hand, and so the chalice was filled. He wiped his face with his sleeves and struggled to regain his calm demeanor, and so returned into the upside down ship and saw that Princess Éfhelìnye was leaving the wounded viceroy kings and approaching her, and at once seeing his face she knew exactly what had happened. Khmaîpfher came froward and picked up the grail and chanted – The acolyte has brought us some wtsèpe, some holy water – and Éfhelìnye came froward and wiped Puîyus’ face a few times and took his hand and held it.
– Will you bless the peoples, oh Íngìkhmar’s Son? – Khmaîpfher asked.
Puîyus nodded. He took the chalice and just as he had seen Grandfather Pátifhar do many a time, he scattered the water unto the folk, the wounded Qhíng and Qlùfhem and Thùlwu, unto the Ptètqiikh of shivering wing, and the shaking Sufhàltii, the Xhrùmpum and Xaxhestàriqhe alike, but this was not water taken from a well and untouched by mortal hands, these were just his tears, the grief he tried to keep sealed up deep within him. And when he had cast out all of his tears he handed the chalice to Ixhúja, and she licked it clean and gave it unto Khmaîpfher, and all of the wounded, turned unto the gossoon and bowed down in their blankets and bowed their heads and eyen and feathers unto him and waited for his blessing. Puîyus made a few absent-minded cheremes with his hands and struggled for a moment to speak, although he could remember the prayers which Grandfather Pátifhar used to recite, he did not know how to say them in words. At last he took down the harp that hung about his aurelian torq, and strumming it a few times and sang out some notes in a sad and deep melody which the peoples heard in different ways. To the Xaxhestàriqhe the song reminded them of their favorite seas, and of the crashing waves and the waters were they loved to chase after fishes, to the Xhrùmpum the song was of large thunderous mushroom villages and of stomping the earth in festal dance, so the Sufhàltii the song was all of summer and not having to work in field or tower, but just being free and feeling the wind in one’s feathers, the Ptètqiikh were reminded of dwelling in their spherical homes and eating dinner with their elders and podlings, and the Thùlwu were reminded of days before the War of Heaven and thought that perhaps the new Emperor would turn his face to them, and the Qlùfhem were reminded of the days when they could craft and build and paint as they wanted and not for battles and horrors, and they thought that perhaps the new Emperor would not be such a Dæmon, and the Qhíng were reminded of their skyways and bridges and for the first time they felt the hope of forgiveness swelling up within them. And so Puîyus sang out his little song and bowed his head, and when he fell quiet again, the wounded felt better than they had for many a day.
In the enchantment of the moment, Khmaîpfher came froward and took the children by their hands and chanted – Cover yourselves now. I shall try to signal a pamlènthe autogyrodyne, either the Qhíng or the Qlùfhem should be able to pick you up and protect you from the Dragons. Come, the night is long and cold and dark. – The children did not object at all, and soon Khmaîpfher was leading them away from the darkness and the walls of incense and back into the outer cold, and the wounded remained inside. And yet, a change was come to the wounded, although none could quite agree as to what it was. All of those whom Princess Éfhelìnye had touched or kissed now found that they were completely cured of their injuries and only had to fear the growing chill about them, and all those whom she had not touched and yet had heard Puîyus’ music chanced to survive through the long night, and when they arose in a world of shivering and bloating Suns, they found that they too had been made healthy again. Many of those who were injured did not quite remember all that had come to pass since the breaking up of their fleets and living ships, and some of them thought that they had just dreamt about the children who had come wandering among them, but others were quite certain that some Divine Children had come, Tusùrthir Divine Twins who had come and touched their lives for a moment. Some thought that it had been chance, they would have all survived the night whether the children had come or not, but others thought that the Empress had healed them, that she was able to work miracles and sooth even the heart of a new Emperor. And so in the days to come the story was spread, a new Moon Empress walking upon the land, and a silent Emperor whose very voice was song itself.

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