– We’re not having any other spats in this family – chanted Siêthiyal as she drew blankets up unto Éfhelìnye’s chin. The Starflower Princess was blinking in and out of consciousness. Ixhúja drew away from blood stained bandages and was wrapping them up in a bundle to be burnt. She nodded to Akhlísa. The stitches would hold for now, in fact they were actually healing very well, for Ixhúja was quite an expert the art of stitching and not even leaving a wound behind. – Did you hear me, older Sister? – Siêthiyal asked. – No more spats. –
Éfhelìnye licked her lips a few times. She knew she had just been angry with Ixhúja and Akhlísa for some reason, but all was become an haze, and then she felt blood, and she was floating and being carried back to bed. She looked upwards and chanted – The words for spats, fhaxhlìqtefho and purjàrlkha are very interesting. Purjàrlkha is made up of púr, nuclear phrases, binnighthe, and jàrlkha, those who fight and unbound battlerunes, and fhaxhlìqtefho, very interesting, is made up of fhàxhli, gēryow, eneg̃, and qtèfho, those who ambush someone or something. So the words for arguments are compounds meaning those who fight with words or who ambush with modes of speech. –
Akhlísa looked to Ixhúja and chanted – She’s smart. She has extra brains crammed in her little body. – Ixhúja nodded in agreement. Akhlísa rubbed her nose and chanted – She and I wear the same size. Is it alright if I borrow your clothing, when we actually get more clothing, at the moment we don’t have too much. – Ixhúja plucked down a clockwork insects and began to play with it in her palm.
Siêthiyal looked up to Akhlísa and Ixhúja and wished that those two could focus for longer than three seconds. Would that Fhermáta were here, she always had the marvelous ability to bring us all together. Siêthiyal stroked Éfhelìnye’s head and chanted – Just rest now. One of us will always be here to look after you. –
– I … I need Puey – Éfhelìnye whispered. – He’s my life and soul. –
– I’ll tell him that after the battle. –
– He’s … mine alone! I can be the only one for him … please, you must believe me. –
– Close your eyen. Rest. Sleep. Maybe we’ll be able to find Auntie Qtìmine. Then someone can look after all four of us. I think we’re still a little too young to be founding the new dynasty of the Pwéru. – Siêthiyal looked to Akhlísa and chanted – That still sounds odd, doesn’t it, for us to refer to ourselves with such a Clan Name. –
Éfhelìnye closed her eyen. Soon she was breathing in with slight gasps. Siêthiyal arose from her side and came up to Akhlísa and the Sisters embraced each other, and drawing Ixhúja down unto themselves she whispered – I don’t know what to do. The only idea I have is to keep her from dying, but I don’t think she will accept the new family which the Elders have arranged for us all. –
Akhlísa looked down and thought that perhaps she shouldn’t have been doing her best to make Puîyus kiss her, especially since he was wont to be so shy of normal, and he was only now getting used to returning unto Jaràqtu and finding everything changed about him. Ixhúja fiddled with a few of her mechanical wihts and wondered whether she could travel outwards and find Auntie Qtìmine or Grandfather Pátifhar or anyone else who could bring healing to their family.
The windows were darkening, what little sunshine was left was become less and less everyday, or so it seemed unto those who struggled and dwelt here in the fortresses at the firths of southron Jaràqtu. None of the children were sure whether they would e'er learn to get used to the vast and gathering darkness that hung o'er all things, and at this point Akhlísa did not care, for she was storming down the halls of the harem and sometimes looking out the windows and seeing the warriors spilling up from the beach like so many insects before her, and somewhere in that gathering horde was her beloved lord and husband and she was never allowed to see him, never at all she thought, even though she had waited so long, and now the Eunuchs were just scattering before her and hiding themselves as she ran from room to room and slammed the doors just to make as much noise as possible. She ran right up into the room which Siêthiyal was now occupying, and by some strange alchemy of fate the four maidens had chosen four rooms set right next to each other, as if by some unspoken agreement each one knew that she could not function away from the other and wanted to dwell together, but still wanted at least a single wall to separate them, and yet for all practical purposes they all lived in the room where Éfhelìnye dwelt, sometimes one would sit by her side, sometimes all four of them would sleep in the same bed, sometimes they would break apart into two rooms, every once in a while into four rooms, but never far apart, and always close together as the great Midnight Extinction continued to creep out untowards them. Akhlísa was finishing making her rounds as she ran from room to room, but there was no one really to terrorize save her own Sisters who both frustrated and gave her joy. So she made her way to Siêthiyal’s room, which was become more a workshop than anything else, with old oaken tables in the center, and paints and tools and jars spread upon it. Siêthiyal had several different marionettes before her, she was taking off their limbs and repairing them joint by joint, some of them had cracked faces, others were missing hands, some had to have new wigs fhyìke ĥili sewn upon them, and Siêthiyal was making some good progress with the toys that Puîyus and Éfhelìnye had rescued for her, slow and arduous work for her dædal hands. She was already setting to work with repairing the dolls intended for Akhlísa as well as a few toys which she thought that Éfhelìnye may want to keep for herself. On the edge of the table lay the leather bound books which were found from the wrack of Khnìntha, and Siêthiyal was even trying her hand at sewing the volumes back together, she knew she was going to have have Éfhelìnye’s help for this, the Starflower Princess had a steadier hand for sewing, and was quite fain for books also.
Akhlísa sate down on the table and plucked up a few marionettes, not at all as cute as Tét the Acceptible she thought, but still adorable enough, and she dawdled them on her knee and chanted – My Sister Wife, may the Ancestors preserve and kep her, can make me very angry. –
Siêthiyal did not look up, she was adjusting a little mechanical hand. – Is Ixhúja looking after her? I’ll not have the new Empress left alone. –
– She’s fine, her fierce cousin is growling around me. –
– What did you do this time? –
– Nothing. –
– I told her I’d bare Puey twenty two children. –
– Haven’t we agreed to discuss the marriage issue later, perhaps after the war, perhaps when the future Empress is feeling better … –
– Puey is mine. –
Siêthiyal held up the little puppet hand and twitched it back and forth. – Do you remember when I told you that you and the Princess would stop being best friends once both of ou were intended to be bound to the same husband? – Siêthiyal did not look up from her toys. – I might have been wrong, I think you two are best friends, otherwise you two wouldn’t be upsetting each other so much. – Siêthiyal set the doll aside. – Dearest Sister, I’m on your side, perhaps I’m the only one who understands you. But what do you want me to do? –
– I’m bringing the issue up to my dear husband Puîyos Khèkatos – chanted Akhlísa. – There is nothing else we can do, I know he didn’t arrange the marriages and young men … –
– Tut tut tut tut tut – Siêthiyal waved her arm in a dismissive gesture. – Your dear husband Puîyos is quite busy with the battle, we can’t disturb him on marital matters, it is far too shameful. Why aren’t you wearing your earrings anymore? –
– Éfhelìnye didn’t like them … – Akhlísa was beginning to tear up. – She … she didn’t think that Puey should … she just doesn’t want me to be married to him. –
Siêthiyal hopped up upon the table and chanted – Don’t you dare cry. You’re Puey’s wife and have every right to him, more than Éfha does. You were promised to him as a child. Please don’t be sad. I have to tell you, this ordeal is far worse for her than it will e'er be for you. We all have each other, but she had to find a family. –
Akhlísa looked aside. She had seen the Forbidden Gardens along with Puîyus, while Fhermáta and Siêthiyal stayed within the Knight’s quarters deep within the Ice Palace, and Fhermáta had gone in one direction searching for starday presents for herself and Siêthiyal in another direction searching for toys, but Akhlísa had seen the huge floating forests and the long and flaming seas, she had seen the serpents rising and falling in long undulations, she had seen the islands arising as jewels in the midst and walked in the cottage where Éfhelìnye had spent her entire life after her first few months of life. She had felt how strange were the Pwátlhu the Hidden Gardens, and some of the deep and ambient sadness jhetlhunujóxai introspective luladälik, that hung upon the Princess’ childhood.
– I’m not sure that Éfhelìnye will e'er be able to forgive her parents – Siêthiyal chanted. – She longs for them and fears them at the same time. Neither of us may e'er be able to understand that … you were taken up into the arms of Khwofheîlya when you were born, and I had birth parents. The Elders even saw fit to start planning your life, and you’ve always had cousins and siblings to take care of you. Éfhelìnye is alone. Her dodo tutor was killed, and Grandfather Pátifhar is … nobody knows where she is. –
– I can see her pain sometimes, in her eyen … in the back of her ken. –
– Perhaps you should wear the earrings again. You’re not going to hurt her. And you’re not a little girl anymore, you are old enough to be betrothed. Are you still practicing with Fhólus and Aîya? –
– No … the Princess diddn’t like it when I shook my hips like that. –
– Try out those Traîkhiim dances, very rigorous and free. –
– Éfhelìnye wants me to dress up again like an imperial bride; she wants me to be Puey’s Vestal Virgin. She even mentioned putting me in charge of all the holy and apostolic and arborescent sylvanhood wer I to become Puey’s chief Vestal Virgin rather than his wife. –
Siêthiyal set some of the marionettes away and drew out one of the books she was repairing but she could not help but smile a little to herself as she imagined what a disaster it would be to put little Akhlísa in charge of all of the Ángajo the Caste Apart, and all of the High Priests and Scribes and Monks and Professors and Acolytes and Holy Virgins. Akhlísa could not even handle the chores on their plantation when she had older siblings and cousins and adults to look after her and remind her of her duties, she tended to fall asleep not only during chores but during temple services or any other act of responsibility which necessitated longer than eleven minutes of attention, she liked to make mud pies in the back yard and throw them at Fhermáta, or at least she always tried to throw them at Fhermáta, plus there were all those times when she was bouncing on Puey’s bed and she somehow got the nicor upstairs, and the river horses clammered up upon the bed and bounced up and down enough to break it, and she did ruin my cake that one time, not to mention the time she set her soaking wet Pluviose tiger slippers upon a light bubble and almost burnt down the entire house. Oh how horrific it would be to put her in charge of an entire caste, does Éfhelìnye even have any idea how incompetent my Sister would be? A caste! Give her an entire caste! Éfha must still be delirious, she doesn’t even know what she’s saying, anyway she can’t give a caste away, she’s the Mother of the Priesthood everyone knows that, or at least she will be the moment the priest binds her hand to my Puey’s and they both drink of the same lustral water. But then again it would be fun to see Kàrula all robed again in white and set upon an high pedastal and falling asleep while they intone and sprinkle their incense. Auntie used to tell me that before the Great War that women, both matrons and maidens used to dance about the altars, but now that the Moon Empress is gone unto us, the one whom no man may name, religion has become very sad, and we can only mourn for the one lost unto us. I bet I could dance better than Kàrula, she’s just trying to be all wriggly but without any sense of rhythm. Maybe Éfhelìnye could put her in charge of the priesthood for a day, now that would be fun. I could be the Fhòlkheting, the Royal Treasurer, perhaps I could collected the tòtwi tithe, the eŝrētumbali religious tax in my Brother’s name, just think what I could do with all those feathers and cloth and spices and candies. Are toys part of the holy tithe? I could always parade Kàrula along with me, and everyone will say, Awww look how cute she is, the young Emperor’s wee Concubine, here, let me donate extra, and I’ll collect whatever they give me and report to Éfhelìnye a reasonably believable tally.
– You’re smiling to yourself – Akhlísa chanted. – Why are you smiling to yourself, you smiler! –
– Nothing! – smiled Siêthiyal and she turned the pages and drew out the manuscript.
– You’re thinking of something. –
– Aren’t we are? –
– Are you making fun of me? –
– I would never do that. I love you too much. –
– Sometimes I don’t know whether I should believe you. –
– Always believe me, I’m the only one you can always trust. Not Ixhúja. Not Éfhelìnye. Only me. –
– Puey? –
– He doesn’t talk. Trust me. Me. Me. –
– You’re … your making fun! – Akhlísa was not quite sure whether to be sore or not, she knew that Siêthiyal was almost certainly plotting against someone, perhaps everyone, maybe even against herself, but that these schemes would never amount to much, Siêthiyal was far to loyal to her own family to stray from them too far. But still, Akhlísa thought that somewhere in Siêthiyal’s mirth lay some quotidian derision for her younger foster Sibling. – Well, go ahead and make fun of me! –
– I was just thinking how … interesting it would be if Éfhelìnye put you in charge of the sylvan caste. It was a trifle. But it shall never come to pass. Puey will have to win this war, and he will decided how to reshape our family, and I’m thinking he’ll take you to wife and everything will be just as the Elders want it. –
– So … I get to be an honored Mother? –
– Yes, you may well be the honored Mother, especially if Éfhelìnye like her Mother before her has difficulty in conceiving. But we have many years to contemplate that. Are you sure that Ixhúja is looking after her right now? –
– Yes … Ixhúja didn’t even bother with complaining about not being able to go out into battle, she likes her Cousin and watching her. She can be an odd one. She can be all mean and viscious, I’ve seen her thrust her sword into people in ways and hows that I’d rather not remember, and then the next moment she’s munching on some fruit and chatting with an insect. She’s … we have no word for it. Puiyèyaxúng, she’s anti-Puey. It’s like if we could melt her and Puey and combine them in a jar and mix them all up song by song and light by light then … boom! They would explode! They’d be some sort of twin firecracker rippling outwards. Burble babble bubble boom! –
– Very descriptive. I’m trying to repair some of these Khnìnthan books for our Noble Sister Ixhúja … I still can’t believe I have to say that, not only are we Pwéru but that insane Heretic is a Clan Sister … and I’ve noticed that Éfhelìnye stuffed a few of the pages of her manuscript within. Do you want to hear her waxing philosophical? –
– Um … I’m not sure what that means. –
When I first came to Jaràqtu I saw that it was greener than any of the virescence I had hitherto witnessed, the fields and rolling hills, the towering aonoch even the moss upon the tòrrs and the long and winding mounts which were the spine of the land sparkled before me not so much as smaragds but as a trice-dimensional gardens which needed tending by no man’s hand but wild and free flourished, in shades of syòpos phthalocyanine verdurous and of pwòthno the color which men call Jaràqtun green. When first set I foot upon the holy hills of Jaràqtu grasses and tòmli seamrōg were springing into existence, and Puey took me by the hand and gathered up some fresh green reed growing up from the freshlette and bound them together in a crown and set them on my head, and he told me in his sparkling eyen that in Jaràqtu I should be adorned with a little green, at least in my hair, a green like unto mine eyen, he told me. And as he took me through the gardens and I saw the plantations and the wild forests and the long pathways of gardens brilliant with flowers and quetzal birds, Puey used to turn and joke to me and tell me in his own marvelous language of gestures and blinks, that none of this green existed before I had come here. What nonsense is this, I tried to protest, of course Jaràqtu was green before I set foot upon it, probably when it arose from the Sea of Music, new and of seawrack gleaming it was still the hint of green, but he just shook his head and with his starlit eyen told me, It was you and your light which engreened this place, which caused it to qhìkhrei, to uxhixhíri, to blush green. Do you see how when your foot touches the ground that new grasses appear, and all of the flowers turn their stalks untowards you and sigh with their pollen? Before you came Jaràqtu was just dust and dreams, it was not solid or real, it was an idea, insubstantial and in the northwind. But once the Princess came and made us all part of her story, Jaràqtu could glow and flourish. As I came to the ancient and ancestrial dwellings of the Sweqhàngqu and began to learn the ways of the people there, I thought a little about what Puey had told me, how in his own poetic way he was changing causality in his mind, and there may be some truth to it, not that I æruginified Jaràqtu, but that indeed all of us are rippling projections from the dance and dream and song of the Immortals, and that time itself is but the rainment which they wear and time changes and grows and can wither and die because of them. The vast Empire of my Father had its founding at the dawn of time, and yet my Father himself influences the creation of the earliest of the viceroy kingdoms, we have trade with many timelines and have fought wars among the causalities, much is fluidic and flowing within the great shadow thoughts of the Immortals, and who can say whether a single flower at the end of time can change the destinies of fleets and armies at the dawn of all things? In our dreams we can see that a dragon and a man can be one and identical, and yet in our waking life we must know that a demimortal and a mortal wiht are not the same, and yet do not the priests speak of khyèrnwu, free will and predestination as a single concept but also as a spectrum of both choice and fate? In the binding together of all time and memory, the seed at the end can be the tree at the beginning, the destruction of the world can also be its birth, healing and plague become the same, and an ancient land ruled of sword and tradition can only come into existence and grow green just because of some children playing in the garden. I think when I saw Puey running out upon the green fields and kicking up the grass and dust and pollen about him I knew that he was completely pure of heart, and that somehow he would help me to reshape and redeam the story which I have in mind. When I was still a tiny child I had in mind the story of a warrior and a princess, it was just a glimmer of childlike wonder with snatches of both divine joy and profound silliness, but when Puey took me by the hand and lead me to his farm, I thought, now I know that my story shall all be about Green, and perhaps echoes of this story already exist in the jade and the seaweed and the blades of grass and the shamrocks strewn throughout the billion, billion worlds and the ten thousand generations.
Siêthiyal looked up. – That’s what our beloved Sister Éfhelìnye wrote. Take a look at her hand, the glyphs were very beautiful, just painted upon the parchment, brilliant circles and triangles and squares flowing upon it, more of a work of art than mere handwriting. – Siêthiyal handed the loose sheet to Akhlísa. – Perhaps you should ask her to help you with your handwriting. –
– Wow! She write all that? –
– Yes. –
– I don’t think I’ve written that much in mine entire life. Did she really write all that? –
– Yes. –
– It was great. What did it mean? –
– She’ll explain it to you. She just thinks quite a bit about metaphor, language, myth, and time itself. I think she’s saying that we are not yet what we must become. The path at the end for us is already prepared, because both the future and the past are always changing. At least that’s what I think she means. –
Akhlísa held the paper and admired the curve and painting of the lwuîs, the calligraphy. – Wow! So … what you just chanted. What does that mean? –
– I’m not entirely sure. Sometimes I think I just want to sound smarter than I am. When Éfhelìnye gets better, and especially when we all set up house together after the war, I think she should tutor you in painting your letters. –
– Do Concubines have to know how to draw like that? –
– I don’t think it would hurt. –
– But I’m going to be too busy kissing Puey all day long to write words! –
– Maybe you’ll end up being Éfhelìnye’s xunínwa immanuensis, she could probably use an assistant with all her writing. –
– I don’t want to have to copy her handwriting and put dusty old books on dusty stinky shelves, I want to kiss Puey on the lips all day long. –
– You can’t kiss him all day long … when’s he going to eat? –
– I’ll rub candy on my lips. –
– And … what if he wants to go swimming with birds and fishes and … –
– I’ll knock him unconscious and force kisses from him! –
Siêthiyal and Akhlísa turned at once and heard the crawling of clockwork outside and the door’s dilating. Siêthiyal smiled a little to herself and was wondering whether the Immortals had a rather dapper sense of humor, for Princess Éfhelìnye had spent all this day of days chasing after Puîyus and forcing him to kiss her and sneaking into his room and altogether inconveniencing the rest of his family for his sake and that of his philemata, and now someone else was doing the same, not Akhlísa trying to kiss Puîyus and perhaps had learned her lessons just a little too hard as she observed Éfhelìnye. The door slid aside and Ixhúja was standing there.
– I guess we don’t knock on doors in this family – chanted Akhlísa.
– I’m used to Siblings just walking in on me when I’m repairing toys – Siêthiyal chanted. – It won’t be the first time. –
Ixhúja walked up to the table and saw some of leatherbound codices which Siêthiyal was repairing, and nodded and found it good, but she also saw some of the pages of the trùngin tome which her cousin had begun, and found that even better. She nodded down the hall and looking to her Clan Sisters told her, The divine future Empress is feeling better now and would like to work on her manuscript. Oh, little baby Karuláta, the future Empress wishes to see you. –
Akhlísa hopped down from the table. – Little baby me. Hah. Hah. Hah. You’re so droll. –
Siêthiyal gathered up the pages and set them in Ixhúja’s hand. – This is what I’ve found so far, I’ll deliver what else I discover. –
Ixhúja was turning to leave the room, and looking back she affixed Akhlísa with a look that meant, Come along little Vestal Virgin. Your mistress summons you.
Siêthiyal came forwards and tugged upon Akhlísa’s sleeve and whispered – Be nice to Éfhelìnye. –
– I don’t want to be a nun! – hissed Akhlísa.
– You’ll be Puey’s Concubine, but not now. She’ll be his Empress, but not now. Ixhúja is not even really part of their clan yet. I’m the only one who will be the same now and later. But no more fighting. –
– I’m bearing Puey’s children, it is my birthriht! –
– But not now – sighed Siêthiyal.
Ixhúja was already walking down the halls and did not really care whether or not Akhlísa followed or not, fluttering about her head came a steady cloud of clockweyth insects chirming about and crawling up and down the walls and beclicking unto themselves. She passed through some large and circular windows and gazing outwards could see a little the shape of the battle which was being waged below, if one could rightly call it a battle, it was more of a controlled rout, as Puîyus her Feral Twin was doing his best to keep one faction from slaughtering another as they all crowded down into the firths, and Ixhúja doubted any true glory could be won down there, hardly anything worthy of laud and song. But still, even a boring battle was better than nothing, the thrill of sword and screams and blood, of grasping an opponent and thrusting him down, what greater excellence could there be? But then again, Éfha is the greatest honor that I know, and when I’m with her, I am no longer sìxhwei tyórnot, hapax legomena.
Ixhúja slid into the room where Éfhelìnye was dwelling, and saw at once that the Starflower was out of bed when she probably should not have been. Éfhelìnye was seated in a chair and was mending the bridal dress which the geminate Duchesses Pereluyàsqa and Khosyaràsqa had made for Akhlísa, for Éfhelìnye had always been quite skilled at broidure, she approached it both as ballet and art, her fingers were dancing upon the fabric as she took spools of golden thread and began weaving new dream patterns into the dress, she took silver and brilliant crimson and was making the sleeves even more beautiful than before. Next to the chair lay the clockweyth corset, and Éfhelìnye’s tools lay beside it, for she had been making some adjustments to the wheels and mechanisms of it to make it more comfortable. – I want to surprise darling Karuláta – Éfhelìnye chanted. – She can still dress as a beautiful flower bride, but I just want her to be more comfortable. –
–?? – wondered Ixhúja as she raised a single arching eyebrow.
Éfhelìnye’s voice squeaked as she chanted – A Vestal Virgin is an Emperor’s Concubine and takes his family name and is considered part of his household, that’s why I have to call the Vestal Virgins my Mothers and they can wash me in milk because they’re my Father’s lesser wives. I think Karuláta will be the perfect holy Virgin for my wonderful Puey. –
Ixhúja tried not to laugh.
Akhlísa swung the door open, indeed no maid in this family was knocking on doors this even. – Siêthiyal chanted you summoned me and I’m very busy I’m thinking about all the kisses that Puey will kiss me on my face and neck and lips and all the babies I’m going to have with him what do you want now? – Akhlísa walked up to the Princess and handed her the pages of the manuscript. – Oh, and Siêthiyal ordered me to give these to you, and I read them all and understand them completely in fact I had to read the manuscript to Siêthiyal because she’s stuuupid and didn’t know all the big words and kept scratching her head and crying like a little baby because she doesn’t understand plain writing, but I’m smart and patient and had to teach her and she thanked me and called me her favorite Sister and promised that we’d go on vacation and visit all the fjords in our land and have lots of candy and iced cream because she loves me so much and I’m quite smartified but she’s stuuuuuupid. –
– Kàrula, thank you for the pages, and I’d be happy to read them aloud to you or Siêthiyal anytime you want me to – chanted Éfhelìnye.
Only when she’s feeling well, Ixhúja chanted, and she stood behind Éfhelìnye and wrapped her arms around her. The future Empress must not exurt herself too much.
– Ah … my Sister told me that she wants you to call her Siêthi from now on – Akhlísa smiled.
– Oh? – asked Éfhelìnye.
– Yes, she wants you to call her Siêthi all the time, Siêthi Siêthi Siêthi Siêthi! –
– I’ll do my best to remember that. I really do want to make Puey happy, and the best way to do that is to bring happiness unto all this family we are forming about us. We all shall love each other, that love shall warm and blossom and sustain us through the long winter midnight, but we shall survive and hold onto each other and never have to fear again. –
– Siêthiyal also told me that if you were planning on giving her any more toys, don’t, just give them to me. Siêthiyal’s feeling very generous. –
– Your Sister is a treasure. And you are a jewel, my Karuláta. –
Akhlísa fell silent, for she could think of nothing else to say. Éfhelìnye held up the sleeve of the snowwhite imperial concubine dress which the twin Duchesses had fashioned of their own tentacles, and labyrinth dreams were bleeding out from it. – I love your dress so much, it suits you, and when I hold it up I can see glimmers of your dreams within it. I saw a dream where you were inside a Dragon’s vision, and dreams when you were a tiny and adorable baby and were crawling around Siêthi and being bit by her, I saw dreams of you gathering up flowers for Fhermáta, and a terrible nightmare of you in the swamplands and the Blight and Monsters arising after you. –
Akhlísa looked down, her face was sad, she was finding it hard to remain angry with someone who loved her so much, even if she did not quite understand the feelings she had for her intended husband. – Those monsters are the sqeqlathèrplait, they were the most horrifying things I’ve e'er encountered, except for the Dragon and all the times I find did you pressing your lips against Puey’s, that was really scary to see I thought you were trying to eat him. Very scary indeed. –
Éfhelìnye blushed a little began drawing up the length of the bridal gown. – I have been known to be rather active in my affection for my Puey. –
– I remember once when Puey was trying to get out of your grasp and you were getting a little vexed you pretty much just slapped his head against the side of the tree, you almost cracked his skull open, and you were just wrapping your arms about his neck and kissing him, you didn’t care at all if I saw or anything. I thought it was gross at the time, but … –
– Would you like to try on the dress? I think you may want to become more accustomed to dressing up as Puey’s qwèntitheung, his elegant vestal courtesan, bua na bìnihi tria, reimonz. – Éfhelìnye held up the gown, and in her grasp it was like water flowing about her fingers, it was fine and glistening as snow, and Éfhelìnye’s face was a soft moonlight.
– I guess … I mean, an Emperor’s secondary wife and his vestal virgin do rather dress the same, all white and dignified, at least as dignified as I want to get. – Éfhelìnye held up the long and fluent and welldamascened sleeve, and Akhlísa could not help but say – Fhwa fhwa fhwa fhwa! That’s wonderful! I want to wear it right now! –
– I have your golden veil right here – Éfhelìnye reached to the table and held it up, and snaking down the sides of it were links all of gold where the Starflower Princess had set in the last stems and buds and petals of the aurelian karuláta flowers after which the maid had been hight. – To me your nun’s veil will be a crown. –
– Fun! – Akhlísa tapped it upon her head. – Quick, I want to wear the dress again. –
Éfhelìnye got up and was beginning to help Akhlísa unbutton a few of her back buttons, but the Princess winced and held her stomache and hoped that no one noticed. Akhlísa was too busy gurgling and cooing to herself, and she was fiddling with the wheels and plates of the corset and imagining just how grown up she’d appear in it, but Ixhúja did glimpse her cousin’s moment of pain, and she tugged down upon Éfhelìnye’s shoulders and made her sit down, and Ixhúja busied herself with helping Akhlísa to undress.
– I want the corset to be so tight and grown up that I’m gasping for air! – Akhlísa chanted.
– We don’t want your korsät to be too tight lest we hurt your ribs – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– Puey has to see how adult I am, that I’m not his little baby Sister anymore but a warm and loving wife to him, and I have hips too! –
Ixhúja was helping Akhlísa remove the first few layers of her blouses, and Éfhelìnye was arising again and clutching her stomache and saying – Of course a Vestal Virgin’s beauty is a reflexion upon the Emperor, she is of course beautiful and worthy enough to be his wife, but it is her devout piety which must be emphasized, since she, or in this case, you, shall not be wife unto my Puey. –
– I’ll be his concubine and bare him children. –
– Fhèsya, what I’m saying … –
Ixhúja pulled away a few more blouses, and Akhlísa wriggled about and chanted – I was thinking, when I was little Auntie Qtìmine used to hold me all the time in her arms, I remember falling asleep and listening to the sound of her heartbeat, I don’t remember honored Khwofheîlya too much, it’s like Qtìmine was really my Mamà but I always called her Auntie, and I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if I had a little child a little man who looked a little like me and Puey all mixed up together and I were holding him, and sometimes he’d be crying and that’s not good but then he’d doze off and he’d be listening to me and that would be very pleasant I think. –
Ixhúja began strapping the clockwork about Akhlísa, wheel and band and gear slowly grinding together, and Ixhúja looked back and saw that Éfhelìnye was still struggling to arise and was still exurting herself far too much. Ixhúja tried to give her some warning purrs, but Éfhelìnye just brushed her away and chanted – When and I alone, Puey’s only wife for ever, bare him his many children, you shall be their beloved Auntie and help me in the rearing, and I promise that you can hold them all you want. –
– You’re so nice! – chanted Akhlísa as the clockwork clasped her in spinning carcanets prisoning. – And when I bare Puey many twenty two children, you can hold them and wash them and wipe their noses and do all the hard work too. –
– Beloved younger Sister, may I remind you, you shall not be having any of his children. –
– That’s not what the Kháfha were saying, they say I’ll be soooo fertile. –
– I’ll … I’ll find you your own … husband then … – Éfhelìnye gasped.
Ixhúja clasped several more wheels about Akhlísa. – You’re going to find me my Puey? What an odd thing to say. –
– No! I’ll marry you off to someone else! – Éfhelìnye collapsed in her chair. Ixhúja was only partially finished in adjusting the corset, but she ran to her cousin to help her up and make sure that none of the stitches had broken again.
Akhlísa rubbed her hands down the side of her body and shook her hips about. – Oh I could never even think of another boy even if I wanted to. How can anyone else e'er compare to Puey? He’s just the über-best! Why have second best then, everyman else left is just leftovers or lukewarm water in comparison to my Puey, he’s going to be the number one male, why for all practical purposes he’s already the first male he’s my yummy candy Puey yum yum yum yum yum. Do you think I look adult in this corset? –
Éfhelìnye struggled for breath for a moment and hissed – I still think you should be Puey’s nun! –
– Fine, I’ll be a stupid nun! – Akhlísa chanted spinning around and grabbing some of the folds of her labyrinth dress. – But I’ll still have his children! –
– I don’t think you understand … –
– I know what nuns do, mine Auntie is one. I’ll be a special nun. I’ll be Puey’s special special concubine wife nun girl. I’ll have his babies, especially if you end up … you know. Not being very … you know. –
– Pardon? –
– If you can’t … become a Mother? –
– I … I … –
– All know the story of your holy parents, how they were married for almost an hundred million years and in all that time the Moon Empress was unable to … to become a Mamà. And then she had a girl, you! She didn’t even bare an heir! –
– I … I don’t wish to talk about my Mother. –
– So … after a while when you can’t give Puey any children … there’s always me! Don’t worry, I’m part of your team, I’m team Pwéru, and I’ll give you as many children as I can, you’ll be their Mother, and I’ll be the handmaiden … don’t you think I look more adult in this corset? –
– My Mother loved my Father very much. –
Akhlísa ran up to a mirror to examine the spinning ears and clasps of the corset and chanted – I guess she didn’t love him enough to bare him children though. But don’t worry, I’ll have wee bairnlings! –
Éfhelìnye rested her forehead against Ixhúja’s shoulder. – I’m sure it wasn’t my Mother’s fault. –
– I’ll give you an heir. See, our future is secure! –
– I want you to become accustomed to the corset … and the discipline of being a nun … you will serve Puey as an holy Virgin … –
– Purr purr purr? – Ixhúja asked, and she brushed Éfhelìnye hair and rubbed her back a little.
– I’m fine. I think I’ll rest again. –
Akhlísa spun around. – Thank you so much, Éfha, you’re the most thoughtfulest person that I know you gave me the toys and you’re mending and improving my dress and you love Puey so much and you keep us from fighting and you don’t mind sharing your husband with me. But I don’t think I want to wear the corset right now. I have other thoughts, other plans. Ixhúja, get me out of this. Do I need a key? –
As Ixhúja arose, Éfhelìnye leaned back in her chair and chanted – One of the chief improvements to the lattice interface of the corset was its ability to be reädjusted and removed without use of a skeleton key. All you need to do is remember your prime numbers … –
– Wha? – asked Akhlísa.
– Numbers which can only be divided by themselves and one. –
– Huh? – asked Akhlísa. Ixhúja came to her back and started turning the wheels and laces.
– The number one is not itself a prime number though – Éfhelìnye chanted. – It is rather surpreme in that fashion. –
– I think you lost me after you chanted, All you need to do is remember … – Akhlísa chanted. Ixhúja however had some lessons beaten into her by the stern claws of her Automata tutors, and as soon as she sprung Akhlísa out of the gears, Akhlísa spun around and laughing picked up the corset and flung it right into Éfhelìnye’s face and shouted – Thank you so much much much much I love you so much, but I don’t want to dress like a concubine right now. I have a very silly plan, at last, Karuláta Khniêma Akhlísa’s most brilliantest idea e'er! – Akhlísa’s earrings were dangling from side to side, Éfhelìnye was not sure what to think of that, the moving clockwork in Akhlísa’s ears was mirroring that in Ixhúja’s, the Starflower Princess could see.
Éfhelìnye took up the corset and began adjusting it, sometimes when she was nervous it was best to work upon some manual labor. – I was hoping you could sleep in my bed this night and keep me company. –
– I don’t know, I’ve got some making and planning … go get Siêthiyal, she’s not doing anything, but call her Siêthi, she loves that! – Akhlísa grasped Ixhúja by the hand, at first the Moon Maiden was hesitant, but Akhlísa reached upwards and began whispering something into her ear, and Ixhúja’s eyen bulged, and her face began to flush bright violet axhuxhári blushing jale like her hair, and suddenly both Akhlísa and Ixhúja bursting out into loud raucous laughter.
– Um … so yo won’t stay with me? – Éfhelìnye asked.
Akhlísa’s face was glowing bright red. She made a vague motion with her hand, and Ixhúja burst out into merry laughter. Akhlísa tried to quell the laughter swelling in her by biting the inside of her cheeks, but burst out saying – Sorry, Princess! Tee hee hee … Ixhúja and I … we’re going to be … we’re going to be … –
Ixhúja blinked as if to say, This I’ve got to see.
– We’ll be busy. Um … don’t wait up. Bye! –
Ixhúja turned and bowed and was beginning to purr something into Akhlísa’s ear, and both of the maidens were squealing in laughter. They slammed the door on Éfhelìnye and left her all alone. The Princess looked down and made sure that she wasn’t bleeding again. She did not mind being alone, it was how she began and perhaps how she would end, trapped somewhere in the midst of her Father’s dread imagination. She gathered up her manuscript and crawled into bed and read o'er some of what she had written throughout this day of days, the day when she had made her first friend and met a boy and escaped from her Father’s horrors, and discovered a world vast and strange and wonderful all at once. And she took pencil and finding blank pages began to scribble out some notes on where the story would bend and flow.
And just a couple of doors down Siêthiyal heard the sound of several doors being slammed, and she thought nothing of it, it was probably just Akhlísa being little mischievous Akhlísa, and she took up a marionette and began to repaint its face, but when she heard the sound of scampering and the combined howling and laughing and ululating of Ixhúja and Akhlísa, she not only knew that no good could come of this, but that Éfhelìnye was being left alone. Siêthiyal grumbled to herself and reminded herself that under no circumstances could her Sister e'er be trusted with the simpliest of tasks, even of delivering a manuscript, it always had to end in disaster, why all they had to do was take care of the future Empress so Puîyus wouldn’t have to worry, and it seemed the three of them were barely able at that task, in fact she’d be quite hale now if it weren’t for a certain half-remembered knife fight which had all been Ixhúja’s fight, she was the one holding the hilt and doing the jabbing and thrusting what do I know about fighting I’ve only watched it she’s killed more men than I can count and tortured them to death I was just holding a kitchen knife in fact I was trying to protect the Princess and pull it all away, yes, I was the hero, if Puey e'er finds out I’m telling him that because I was the hero, no, I was a Saint I was protecting the Princess and keeping the family together and no guilt could e'er come to me. So once again I have to rescue this family, I, the unthanked unsung and saintliest of all the née Sweqhàngqu, now Pwéru. Siêthiyal set down the marionettes to let them dry, and came down the hall, but before entering Éfhelìnye’s room decided to knock.
– Who is it? – chimed Éfhelìnye.
Siêthiyal tried to lower her voice. – I’m Puey! – she grumbled. – I’m here to see my future wife. –
Silence reigned for a moment. – Siêthi? Siêthi, is that you? – came Éfhelìnye’s voice.
Siêthiyal kicked the door open. – How many times do I have to tell everyone in the billion, billion worlds, don’t call me Siêthi! – Siêthiyal stormed towards the bed, and found that Éfhelìnye was perched upon some pillows and scribbling on her knees, and Siêthiyal drew down a small board to set on her lap to make the Princess more comfortable. – I suppose that if Puey e'er learns to talk he and he alone can call me by such a ridiculous little name but no one else and certainly not someone who didn’t grow up with me. Or at least not yet, Princess, maybe after a thousand years you can call me … No, that’s not long enough. Yes, I’ve decided that you just don’t know me well enough … what are you writing now? Philosophy? Metaphysics? –
– Not quite – chanted Éfhelìnye and she took a quill and began drawing a few letters.
Siêthiyal crawled up into bed beside her and chanted – Just tell me that you’re not writing another scene where Puey sweeps you off your feet and kisses you et cet et cet passionate and gross and all the worlds fade away. –
– I’m writing about the Labyrinth. –
Siêthiyal yanked away a couple of pillows from Éfhelìnye and decided that the Princess did not have to be too comfortable, and she curved up beside her and muttered – Oh, why? –
– In the khmèntokh taghairm dragon dreams the portents were revealing the great Labyrinth, and I thought I’d write about it, it’s scope and history, for after all, someone has to be thinking up a strategy to win this war. –
– Hmm. – Siêthiyal closed her eyen.
– The Elders think quite a bit of betrothal and marriage contracts, the Generals of supplies and living ships, the Warriors and Soldiers about a particular battle, the Priests about saving the Children, what few of us are left of course, and the Plantimals try to hide. But who is trying to find the way to end my Father’s reign? –
– Um … I don’t know. You may be the only one. –
– It all begins in green. With a seed. With a tree. –
– You’re very smart – Siêthiyal yawned a few times. Éfhelìnye took a crayon and on the next sheet began drawing circles within circles within circles, they were a little like great and flowing cochleates like unto the shells of the Xhmàsqor folk, long since extinct by the Khan Jhkhaîxhor’s cruel hand, or like the shells of so many snægel, it was an exercise in how circles of their own accord were become the rippling surface of a pool, stone dropping down upon it and causing it all to shift and merge, it was like the movement of cloud as it arose about the edge of the whispering mountains and soared upwards higher and higher into the upper free welkin, the circles were become rings and eyen and the Sun and Moon entwined in long and constricting Dragon coils. The circles were spreading outwards and were become a great girdle about all of Jaràqtu and tighter and tighter the rondures were pulling asphyxiating like intestines writhing unto the very center where the Aûmfhaikh the Emperor’s Singularity of Art remained.
The doodles were become the hills of Jaràqtu, several different green crayons were dancing upon the page, they were blades of grass and reeds and the barest outline of the luich and the crannogs sparkling upon the fields and the skies smaragd were merging right into the land and the mist of the hills. Éfhelìnye was walking upon the pebbled pathway, her hair was all a blur of crayons and oil pastels, her dress was a blur of white pencil marks swirling about her body, and her movement consisted of various layers of pencil drawings swirling about each other then a slight outline of ink dappering about her sleeves and in the blink of her eyen, and ruby crayons for her lips. She was helping Siêthiyal prepare herself for the Starday of Saint Kàtriqan, for it was the custom among the children of Jaràqtu to wear the colors of martyrdom, bright greens, and crowns of gold and white, in respect for the holy sage who had come unto their land so long ago. Siêthiyal was drawn of pencil and pink was erupting from the outline of her dress, her hair was made up of the dreams of roseate colored pencils, a few dapples of violets and reds within, but mostly a flowing mosaic of pinkery dance about her brow and down her back. Éfhelìnye was preparing for her an hot most floppy. Yes yes must make for you an hat dapper or jaunty ulayókhla quite a fun word really a word that we should use everyday. Taking the hat and bending it from side to side, must let Siêthiyal’s tresses flow beneath it, the hat has to complement her, a green rim and a golden dome of the hat, and crowns of karuláta and siêthiyal blooms tumbling through the hat. Do you like that? Let me hold the mirror up. The mirror was just bare pencil and some silver paint which Éfhelìnye was rubbing upon the parchment with the tip of her finger. Paint merging into the paper. Living paint. I hope you like it. Siêthiyal admires herself and spins around. Smiling. Quite a Sweqhàngqu smile. Qunokàlyur ólya ker análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla teirtlhiyukoa. That’s quite the dapper hat you have on there. Siêthiyal takes up her qthefhtalwèpta shillelagh, it had belonged to Grandfather Jàkopar Khmàntro, it was made from the wordwood of Qwaiqhèmlo the Painted Forest. Walking. Walking. Tap tap tap tap. Siêthiyal grinning. I’m running after her, I’m taking up crayon and pencil and coloring her in, sometimes coloring in her hair and othertimes drawing long and compliated runic patterns upon her staff. She walks and everyone is bowing unto her, the cousins Ìkhnos and Pàlron, the men upon the Saûqyufha plantation, Siêthiyal walks upon the ipebbled pathways and men slow their chariots and carts and take off their hats to her. Quite a dapper hat, quite a lovely lass. Éfhelìnye coloring in the rainbow behind them. Everyone running up, sometimes rubbing Siêthiyal’s pink tresses or her floppy hat for good luck. It’s a fun sentence because it’s in the existential mode, I’ve always found it interesting to examine the secondary modes, they’re all quite similar in their inflexions, they add just the right amount of cinnamon to the language, the engaûplo. Qùnot, or qùnok- before the suffix, quantifier for solids and cereal goods and soil, with the suffix –alyur upon it. Interesting word for had, wanted a very neutral word, not something fancy, tressured headdress, just the simple polysyllabic aleseqwètowo here with the singular –ná- infix. Dapper, dapper, and then teir-tlhi-yukoa, teir, thee familiar, -tlhi-, on, wearing an article of clothing, and –ukoa, in yon place, yonder. Siêthiyal walking away, the feast of Saint Kàtriqan upon her. What a lovely hat. Will the other maidens let me participate in the festivities for Saint Kàtriqan. I think not. I am not Jaràqtun, not of their blood, I do not wear green like these virgins, I am white. Party without me. I hope Fhermáta and Siêthiyal and Karuláta have fun without me. I hope everyone’s talking about philology tonight without me. That owul dbe fun.
Has Babel always been a dechticætiative language, and yet no one has figured it out yet? One of the confusing joys about Khlìjha is that it keeps confusing its agents and patients since it has a wonderous spectrum of cases for the objects and the subjects. I would say that although clauses seem to be rather classifiable in terms of the pattern of Predicate Object and Subject, but that if we look at the deeper structure we can see that the Object is sometimes a primary Patient and secondary Patient. Does the primary patient correspond to the patient of a monotransitive clause, and the patient of a ditransitive clause? Does the secondary patient correspond to the patient of a ditransitive clause? Or is it simplier than that. Let’s consider something simple, very monotransitive.
Tuînamat análesaqwètowo xhroe ulayókhla pfhu Siethiyalàswaor púsa.
I give a dapper hat to Siêthiyal.
Now we have predicate: tuînamat. We have object: análesaqwètowo xhroe ulayókhla pfhu. We have indirect object: Siethiyalàswaor. We have subject: púsa. The object is the patient, the subject is the agent.
Xhnípe tuinamàtejikh análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla.
A dapper hat is given to someone by someone close to her.
The subject of the sentence, análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla, is clearly the patient, and the agent is left unexpressed. Inserting the indirect object helps clarify it a little, the participle tuîn must mean that the agent is giving something to someone in his own clan or to a close friend.
Xhnípe tuinamàtejikh análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla Siethiyalàswaor.
A dapper hat is given to Siêthiyal by someone close to her.
One again the agent is not express directly, it is implied in the particle in terms of its relation to the indirect object.
If we shift the sentence to the passive voice we can see a ditransitive quality to it.
Xhnípe’ ur tuinamàtejikh qoe’ análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla pú.
A dapper hat is given to someone close to me.
The predicate is twofold, we have the main predicate xhnípe’ ur tuinamàtejikh, and a second predicate, qoe’ análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla, and then the subject pú. And yet, despite the case, análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla is clearly the patient of the giving, and pú is the agent. So in this case the patient is not really in an objective case such as the construct or the partitive genitive form of the locative case, but in the experiencer case, in fact the construct example we have, tuinamàtejikh is really part of the predicate construction.
Adding an indirect object:
Xhnípe’ ur tuinamàtejikh qoe’ análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla Siethiyalàswaor pú.
A dapper hat is given to Siêthiyal by me, close to her.
Two predicates, one dative in the locative case, on subject in the experiencer case.
If we look at it in the antipassive voice:
Jáxe tuinamàtejikh análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla pfhu púsa.
I give some dapper hat or other to someone.
The predicate is jáxe tuinamàtejikh, the ingeminate construction consists of análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla pfhu, that first experiencer is really swallowed by the ingeminate case, and then púsa remains in the experiencer as the subject. The patient is in the construct case, and the construct is being used as a patient.
Jáxe tuinamàtejikh análesaqwètowo’ ulayókhla pfhu Siethiyalàswaor púsa.
I give some dapper hat or other to Siêthiyal, close to me.
Perhaps Language is not quite dechticætiative, but it is certainly a very useful way to discuss the fluidic role agents and patients within the construction of subjects and objects and the way they get slotted into the seven cases.
Although really agents and patients, subjects and objects, and the various manifestations of khlíkh active-stative language khlìkha s-fluidic language, khlèxha dechticætiativë language are all rather problematic metaphors for the interaction of fate and time, the green leaves of Kàtriqan and the martyr’s crown, and the dying flowers, they are language itself wilting. The Khan was a lord despiser who was poisoning his own land, whose people had purified it of insect and tried to change the people with steam and oil and the wheel, until all of the Crimson Moons were dying. But my Father is a lord of silence, he kept me innocent of music, dance and poesy were music unto me, and still continue to be the only way that I can understand it, as my Father devours all life and time and light, he brings doom upon all story, he is eating up language, he leaves only silence in his wake. Where no trees can grow, where matter itself must dissolve, where worlds collide and become dust which does not even in a dream voice sing, grammar itself is just a void. And yet if all music, all art, all language my Father seeks to destroy, what can be his possible end? What purpose, rational or otherwise, can it all serve? Will some of the worlds of the Dreamtime survive, and upon these the last despirate war exiles build up a new Empire from the silent ashes my Father leaves behind? A new home, tabula rasa. Does my Father plan? Is he capable of planning, is he cunning like the Dragons, is a creature of time like the Dæmons, or is he simply insane like the Monsters. Even the Dragon hordes could feel fear. Is this what the Immortals intended when they stablished the holy House of the Pwéru and set it as scourge upon all mortaldom.
Immortals. Perfect. Complete unto themselves. Living energy and thought, almost minerallike in their being, as living crystals, as facets and light. A plan. Creating creating creating in their song and in their dance, the manefestation of their dreaming. Apocatastasis for mortals. Cycles within wheels within generations. Mortals in their nations and cultures and wars. Mortals building cities and civilizations and casting incense before their Ancestors. Mortals building the Automata and setting them lose upon the worlds. An Emperor set upon a crystal throne. Flawed and sad mortals doing the work of the Áme. Survivors tredging outwards. All of the Suns are dying. The Emperor is coming with his Dragons. The infininte cosmoi of the Dremtime are the metaphysical expressions of the perfect dreams of the Immortals, and the apocatastasis is when the Immortals return back to their original meditations. When this happens all of the planets and moons shall return unto Kaîkhwe, the Melding of the Realms and the Great Symphony of the Spheres, and all of the cosmoi unto one, the first position, the creation. Floods and fires. The Suns and rainbow corona. Thoughts flowing outwards. The emanation of divine Kàrijoi. The soul is part of the divine music, unheard by me until this day, and trapped within flesh, but it can only be released by true love and marriage. Then the true Empire can be revealed. Eternal source, a prismatic fountain. The bridegroom is the image, he is the truth. Reconciliation of all forces, Qhíng and Aûm, Jaràqtun and Khniîkhan, Mortal and Clockwork, all must come together in harmony in the Imperium which my Puey will found. All beings are capable of happiness, they can all join together in the dance which the bridegroom Puey will lead. Puey will not chasten the peoples save to better them, his righteous wrath only serves to ameliorate the proud. Puey will have to purge all the sinners, and all will turn back unto his friendship. Long journey. Long war. A long quest whereon my Father has sent me. Time itself is ending. Even Death shall have to be slain. Bodies become but light and the sun, unity and peace.
Ixhúja and Siêthiyal are precious eidola unto me, they are like winged creatures, bright and innocent, they guide the way, they protect me on my journey back unto te Sun. Wings. Yes wings. Maidens have wings like white raven doves, and lads have wings like dark ravens. Prophecy. My Father knows something. Starting everything anew. Doom is rebirth and death. My Father is the father of all the Land, above and outside and beyond. Is he actual? Is he rational? If he were present could he explain what and why and how he was doing. He is just a matter of faith, does my Father even exist at all, or is Emperor Kàrijoi just a story which we children tell each other to frighten us, the Emperor who once gave toys unto all the good children of the land, but now he has withdrawn himself and sends out his Monsters to destroy everything, Imperator ex Machina
Circles within circles within circles spinning around the labyrinth growing outwards and filling up all the page and twisting through it were come long bridges down which corridors were forming and balusters and hanging gardens, and bursting up out of them were towers which were growing taller and taller as one progressed into the center of the labyrinth, long and flowing towers which were themselves iformed out of seasons and harbingers and time itself, the towers all crescents and whispering mountains and living ships and skies surging upwards in frozen vulcanic eruptions. Like flowers in the snow. Petals drifting down and landing upon the ice. The expanding and thrawing layers of the maze were flowers within flowers, the petals a little like grinding gears wellpressed against the other and churn churn churning all through the night, a living labyrinth, a garden of wheels eating time. Petals falling upon the snow. Remember seeing the petals when they first tell. It was in Jaràqtu, or at least Jaràqtu as I remember it, not this old fortress under Suns not quite bright enough, where soot and ash are filling all the corners, where darkness is creeping outwards and touching our imaginations, our very souls, no it was Jaràqtu that was, when the grass and leaves and hills were pwòthno green, and in the sharp and euphoric brightness, as the maidens were wearing their last bright dresses, I remember when the frost first began to come, just a little every dawn when I awoke, a think breath upon the greenery, a slight sheen upon the windows, a glow upon all the rooftops of the byrnies, and yet every dawntide the frost was thicker, and slight icicles of water and stardust were growing. Thicker thicker thicker. The flowers were slowly bending in the ice. The trees were bowing before me. The petals were breaking apart. At first I walked in the early snow and gathered up the broken petals and tried to set them back onto the buds whence they came, and sometimes the flowers still had strength unto themselves to take back the petals and to blossom anew, but othertimes the flowers just knew that they were dying and they leaned o'er to feel me as they passed, and they wept as only flowers can, and he felt their deaths one by one by one. Flowers dying on the snow. Nothing I could do. Even Fhermáta’s flowers were fading, the erfhrúla betrothal flowers. Gone. Gone. Gone.
Throne all of Crystal. Gnarled tree growing upwards behind it. Dragons rising and falling behind the peacock feathers, and the breath and flames of the dragons are bursting petals. About the long and rainbow steps leading up unto the throne other Dragons are coiling. The Emperor my Father is standing before the throne, and he holds the holy khátatlhùmpa staff in his hand, and dying flowers fall from it, and the staff is a tree uprooted, and cascades bleed from the roots.
Find thou the Flower.
There is no Flower, my Father. It is just metaphor, it is the stardust that philosophers use, to throw in the eyen of their readers and confuse them. There never was a Starflower, it is a myth, a way to explain in story the death of the Tree of Light.
My Child, the Tree of Light did die, and it was tragedy beyond all our understanding, but we poor mortals did not invent the tale of the Starflower, it was handed down unto us, is is dream, it is fact, it is part of our blood. It was for this flower that I thee hight.
What relavence does a single fatuous flower have to anything? Am I supposed to defeat you with the flower, to end this war, to stop the pointless extinction? I saw the miserable Xhyaîqtekh skaters among the refugees, they may all be dead now because of your winter. The Dragons are losing what rationality they e'er had. Why should I worry about a flower?
Your Mother loved that flower.
Flowers are all dead, you murdhered them, my Father.
Bade I thee and Puîyus when you came before me and dared to ask for a betrothal and marriage that only the flower would heal the winter.
Riddles and metaphor and prophesy! You tell me to find a flower, the Elders say that a battle must be fought in a Labyrinth, the wild Plantimals talk of Marriage. How can this all end?
The Quest for the flower, my beloved. Warrior, Princess, Raven. Puey and the Princess.
Éfhelìnye slumped o'er, her face smudged her sketches of Qreûralirkh the Labyrinth of Worlds, as well as some of the pastel and drawing pictures she had made of Siêthiyal in her dapper and floppy hats, and her wandering pencil’s trail of thought ruminating upon language and time. The smudge did not remain upon her alban face but faded away, although her doodles and writing were a bit of a jumble it. Princess Éfhelìnye looked upwards and saw that Siêthiyal was leaning upon her shoulder and looking at the drawing and the writing and wondering unto herself.
– You’ve very smart – Siêthiyal chanted.
– My thoughts just wander ramble wǽfre, that’s all – Éfhelìnye sighed. Siêthiyal yawned and stretched her limbs and held onto the Princess and fell fast asleep. And late into the night Éfhelìnye was scribbling away and thinking about movement and wheel and dragon, and she found it very pleasant to listen to the sound of Siêthiyal’s slumber, and far away from her Akhlísa and Ixhúja were giggling very late into the long midnight cold and were hardly thinking about matters of philology and fate and the Flower of Heaven.
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