Puîyus walked into the fog of dawn and just knew with ancestrial instinct that this would not be a good day. He did not mind the cold and the spinning mist, the winds were flapping against his pajama sleeves and his long and unbound hair, the only disturbance at all in the land was the sound of his own flesh, the tiny murmur of heart and breathing and the quivering of cells and the movement of fiber and sinew within him. His footsteps could be as silent as he wished them to be, it was a natural gift which he did not have to be taught, for Grandfather Pátifhar used to teach his pupils how to be silent in battle and to sneak through the night, but Puîyus did not have to rely upon any conveyance of foot and muscle and having to walk in a away unnatural to him, for if he desired to be silent as the night, he just became the night. And in the fog he was like unto the fog. The slight sound of his wooden shoon returned unto him, and if he had to define them in words they would have suggested unto him, All honor be unto Kàrijoi the Great Prince, all peace be unto Kàrijoi the Lord of Health and Prosperity and Life, all glory be unto Kàrijoi the Master of Earth and Sea and Sky, for even his walking was reminding Puîyus that he was supposed to be a loyal and true vassel unto the Emperor and that all his dealings in this war should be in service to the Emperor, even if in the end Puîyus had to help topple the Dying Sun from the heavens. Puîyus walked out upon the cold and spanning bridges, they were tall and delicate Færie architecture such as flew through the tall mounts here in the Orbeloids, and like so many other bridges he had seen before, the stone and pathway and archway were also part of forest, trees grew wild and yet were also bent and made a part of the gephura, the whispering mountains were sprawling with the remains of raths and ruins and dead round trees and tumbling boscage and vines sprawling upon the face of rock and statue, forest and building were all the same in terms of craft unto the Xhámi, but even moreso to Puîyus who delighted in sleeping in a tree just as much as on a bed, while the rest of his people shut themselves up in their tents and igluit and homes, albeit domiciles merged with the wild world. The fog was filling everything, the forest was grown looming and keen and grasping, he could tell by the smell that very many of the trees were dying, that frost was taken ahold of the branches and were strangling the boles and trunks one by one by one. Puîyus was sliding through the fog, the slight dwimmerlaik of the monks swayed before him and he knew he would overtake them soon as they came unto one of the great temples of the mountain. Puîyus was content to walk in the twining fog, and to listen. And yet even the forests had little to say in the enshrowded fog, and this was another omen of what a bad day it would be, he wished that at least a few moths would arise and play before his face, perhaps a few dinosaurs could come running outwards before him and chase their tails and he could squeal and run after them, and they could all chase the insects together, but in the fog Puîyus could see only the dim outline of several saurians and the fluttering of some gigantic butterflies, but it was silent and cold darkness and was not interested in speaking with him. Puîyus found that the forest was thinning a little about the bridges, and here the bridges were sparkling with ancient seashells and fast marine fossils such as ubiquitous covered the dreamlands of Jaràqtu, for this was a land of little building and so retained unto itself some of its primal beginnings even upon its surface. For Puîyus knew that the Dreamtime was ancient beyond days, it was the very whorl and flesh of time itself, that the Dreamtime had already been in its summer mchana when Mortals had first arisen upon the continents before Sànum the Tree of Life and the first marriage and coronation was held, and Puîyus knew that from the sacred Tree the ten thousand timelines came rolling outwards and filled all things, and that past continents and future continents drifted outwards throughout the timetides, and the cycles had risen and falling, had emerged and drifted and sunk and rearranged, but Jaràqtu was only lightly settled, while the Midlands and Khniîkha were covered in layer upon layer of civilization and architecture so that the cities were dolven deep into tombs and catacombs and caves a thousand generations beneath them, but in Jaràqtu the fossils still lay petrified upon the surface, the whispers of the past remained in the present day. Puîyus walked upwards upon a bridge yfashioned of the bones of some tremendous Tàngim ǎq’hlū, an orc that had once gamboled deep within the shadow seas, and the mouth of the bridge was all of jaws, and as he walked out he thought about solar sails and bone oars and javelins and singing arrows and honored swords and all of the music of civilization. The bridge came spanning upwards and came up unto a temple of ancient and dark green and blue glass such as the Xhmòsqri people long ago used to make, before the painted Xhmòsqri and the Sons of Khiêro had merged together and begot the Jaràqtuns among them, and before the temple he found dead grasses and shattered leaves and desolation and death and a Sun was arising behind the Temple and illuminating it, vast and rubescent and ancient Kharànthar Jàrfha, red and gigantic and giving of very little light. Puîyus emerged from the fog and the darkness, his eyen still shining with a feline qualitas as they were wont to do in the absense of light. And before Puîyus even came to the courtyard, the doors of the temple were opening of their own accord and inviting him within.
The moment Puîyus walked into the temple and saw before him the large altars covered in wood and oils and the bodies of the fhàxhos slaves lying upon them, and before the altar an hundred Kháfha monks kneeling upon their triple knees upon the prayer mats, and all were completely silent save for the slight rustle of wind in the open window above the dead fhàxhos slaves, and when Puîyus saw that already a place had been set aside for him before the altar, he just knew with ancestrial instinct that this would not be a good day. The monks remained perfectly still. Puîyus walked up to the mat prepared for him, it was melancholy blue like his hair. He knew, Íngìkhmar’s Son, some of the ways of acolytes and priests since he had been trained by Grandfather Pátifhar, and his Auntie Qtìmine, a Vestal Concubine of the Sun was like unto his Mother, and his dear friends had been acolytes, and so recognized that the monks were trying to instruct him or test him in some fashion. Puîyus knelt down before the bodies of the fhàxhos slaves, and saw that they were ready to be burnt, and their bodies would become smoke and blood and become part of the light of the Suns. The monks remained completely still. Puîyus remained quiet in his kneeling. He had held the slaves when they had died. They had betrayed no fear even as the priests sliced them open. Puîyus wondered whether in battle he would be that brave, if he were bested by a better man or a quantum dæmon or a fell Dragon, whether he would accept his fate as he had been taught to do. And even as Puîyus was thinking such thoughts, all at once, as if with a signal being given, all of the Kháfha monks sate down and turned their triple-eyed heads towards Puîyus and stared at him. They did not blink. Puîyus could feel their eyen behind him. Priests and monks had the ability to seem far away, he thought, even when looking at him, or perhaps they were inspecting him and examining him for all of his faults, of which he had more than he could count.
After several moments of utter silence and staring, just when Puîyus could feel guilt gnawing at his heart and reminding him that he was no more Kàrijoi’s Son than he was a Prince, the Monks began to speak as if with a single voice saying:
– We thank the Crown Prince greatly for coming here and doing honor to the fallen fhàxhos slaves, for now they shall be remembered for all time, they who become the light of the Sun. Oh most Imperial Puîyos, oh foster son of Kàrijoi, oh future sire of the Pwéru, oh silent and pious and blessed and famous and fortunate and strong-mewing and ay-victorious ay-conquering aytriumphing child of the Sun, oh endless supernal majesty, oh governer and governance of the Winter Emperor, oh conductor of the War of Heaven, protector of the innocent and children and women and priests, oh master of peace and the caste system of the peoples, oh strong arm of the Spirits and the Immortals, oh mighty impaling spear and māccuahuitl and sword, oh commander of soldiers and warriors and knight, oh provider of food and warmth and light of the people, who master of all the worlds and the four quarters of the Dreamtime, oh quiet beloved of Éfhelìnye and Akhlísa, tell us, please, how shall we burn these bodies, for we have no tinder or flame with us, and you have brought none with you in your pajamas. –
Puîyus checked his sleeves and realized the truth of what the monks had chanted. He felt as if Grandfather Pátifhar were leaning o'er his shoulder and demanding the correct answer of him lest he receive punishment and fasting in return. He was almost wishing that he had awoken one of his Sisters or the Princess to bring with him to speak for interpreter, or even that he would just arise and run away, but the Kháfha monks in their long black and sepulchral robes just stared at him all the while.
– You will light the flames and burn the bodies with your faith – the monks told him – and your grace at being the Crown Prince. For when you consider and meditate upon this State of yours, oh Crown Prince, then you will be able to light the fire. –
Puîyus was wondering if he just ran for it and dashed back into bed and hid with the maidens whether the monks would catch him, but in his experience monks were strong and wirey, and not a few times before he had been caught and cuffed by one, and he knew he would not escape from them, he was no longer a young child but had to act like the Son of Kàrijoi.
– How does one know whether the form of governmance is correct? – the monks were asking.
Puîyus bowed his head, for he did not know.
– Should the peoples be enamored of their own chieftains and elders, should they be loyal to the dukes and viceroy kings and lords, should they simply turn their worship to the person of the Emperor, or should rather their thoughts be given unto an ideal? –
Puîyus’ thoughts struggled for a moment. He knew that when monks and priests were asking questions of lads that sometimes they asked them questions to lead them to the truth, and so Puîyus guessed and drew his hands together and then pointed upwards up to the heavens.
– If the thoughts of men are given to an ideal, how can they remain loyal to an Emperor who is real and not abstract? –
Puîyus pointed upwards again.
– But tell us then, Crown Prince, how can an Emperor always succeed to an ideal? Long before you were born Emperor Khyìlyikh burnt the earth and boiled the seas and rent the skies, he was the antithesis of the perfect Emperor. And in this day you lead a war against your own foster Father, how can one see Kàrijoi as the ideal? –
Puîyus hung his head down and hoped that the monks would just answer for him. He wished that Éfhelìnye were with him, she was so clever with words and expressions, and she could figure out connections which he could not understand.
– Do you have a theory for government? –
Puîyus shook his head in negation.
– How does one kingdom arise and another one fall here in our Empire? –
Puîyus thought for a moment and then rolled his hands down.
– The government collapses, it is displeasing to an Emperor. –
Puîyus drew his sword and jabbed it into the air.
– Or perhaps the government is conquered by an army or a strong man. But then what replaces that kingdom? Does something new arise out of desperation? Does the Emperor permit the conquerors to dwell there? –
Puîyus moved his hands about in a vague gesture.
– When a kingdom falls, the Emperor can always reinstate order. But if the entire Empire falls, all the Dreamtime collapses with it. What then can one do to topple Kàrijoi and yet save the Empire? –
Puîyus made a swinging motion as if with a scythe, but he had no pleasure in doing so.
– Crown Prince Fhìtsarakh ended his Father in such a fashion, and he was known as the Tyrannicide, and the peoples praised him and song and proclaimed him the father of their freedom, and he was much beloved for a time, for the peoples loved him. But Emperor Fhìtsarakh grew afraid, for he knew that any Son he should sire would be greater than himself, and he did not wish to fall at the hand of his own Son. Do you remember the story? –
Puîyus nodded. He pointed to his mouth.
– Whenever Empress Qeretrúta, the sister and wife of Fhìtsarakh, bore a Son, Fhìtsarakh took it and deemed it unworthy of himself and swallowed him. And so when Qeretrúta was with child and found a way to escape from her brother and husband, she escaped with her daughters Xerxhaláta and Alixhlìnye and in a cave bore Kàrijoi and then died. And so Fhìtsarakh was trapped, and he had a Son who would be the greatest of all Emperors. And no you are arisen against your foster Father. Is there a way to end the cycle of Patricide? –
Puîyus tried to express himself with a twittering of fingers, he was trying to tell the monks that since he was Kàrijoi’s foster Son that the cycle of myth was not repeating itself, in fact Puîyus had been told that the Elders of the Qhíng and the Kháfha and the Aûm as well as the rest of the Great Races and the War Chieftains of Jaràqtu and even Khniikhèrkhmair the Prophet had selected Puîyus to be the Crown Prince, and so there could be no dishonorable patricide, he was doing what the Elders bade of him.
– Even Khriîno was selected by the Immortals and became Pwéru, but once one is Pwéru one is Pwéru all one’s life. Kàrijoi is the Father of the Land. How can you have authority to use law as a weapon when you seek to violate the first two laws. Do you remember the two laws? –
Puîyus nodded and counting on his fingers remembered, Law the first: Honor marriage, either when a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to a wife and they are one flesh and their offspring honor the clan, or when a man enters the priesthood and becomes a son of the Empress, and, Law the second: Honor thy father and mother and grandparents and elders of the clan and the Emperor and Empress whence all marriage comes.
– From those two laws come all the governance of the Dreamtime. If you would be a just and wise Emperor, consider the path that you are tredding. The Emperor is your Father. The Land is Marriage. How would you describe the laws of the people? –
Puîyus shrugged, for laws were quite complex. The monks however thinking that Puîyus was reacting in an adequate fashion for someone who had not been born or reared for the awesome task of become an Emperor, but he was making good use of his training in the martian arts and with the priesthood, so the monks were saying – Law is the music of Empire. Law exists in all the nations, viceroy kingdoms, and timelines, law exists among Qhíng and Kháfha and Aûm alike. Some law is written upon tablet and monument and monolith, some law is unwritten, other law is most ancient custom, some law is holy writ. Among the nations there are statutes and commands and plebiscites and rhetrai and senutsconsults, the edicts of the Synod of Lords, the instructions of the Noble Caste, and the Word of the Emperor. Statutes may be the word of the people made into law, they are what lesser nobles gather. Commands may be the word of the priests. Plebiscites may be the word of an assembly of people. Rhetrai are ancient customs that govern a caste. Senutasconsults are ordinances of local governments. Edicts are the findings of the Synod of Lords. Instructions are the breath of the Noble Caste. And Emperor’s Word is life and death, verbum sanctum. Law is the web that holds together all the people. Law is the compromise that binds together the caste. Law keeps the Nobles and Warriors and Priests in protection of the Merchants and Artisans and Helots, we speak of course in terms of the metaphor castes of your people, for castes are nothing more but a shade of music, a characterization in a play. And above all the law is the worship of the Emperor, the Emperor is master of all law. –
Puîyus hung his head down for now he was feeling exceeding unworthy to be the Cælestial Crown Prince, if he were in truth one indeed, for no only had he very little understanding of the law, but he was thinking that as Emperor he would have no idea how to become master of it. But the Monks were looking up to him and saying – Do not despair, oh great Prince. You are young and you shall find the path whereon to lead us all. Yours is the divine mandate to master us, yours is the heavenly right to command us, for the Emperor is the reconciliation of opposites, just as his power derives from both the people and the Immortals, just as he comes of both Blood and Marriage, just as he is both a man and more than a man, so too you will learn how to make law out of life and death and life as death and death as life and life and death being both the same rainbow. In the same way that a bird does not have to think about how to fly but just arises in volitation, as a fish does not need to be taught how to build its nest, nor a songster how to string and strum his harp, nor a warrior how to grasp his sword, nor the subject to obey nor the master to command, so too you will be the Emperor and all souls shall be subject unto you just as you are subject to the Immortals themselves. You will understand as you become the living Tyùqti, the Antonym, that you are ordained of the Immortals themselves and the Father of the Immortals, and so all who resist your honor resist the Immortals themselves and they shame themselves and their children, and yet you can also be the one who resists the old Emperor and restores the Dreamtime. You do not in vain bring impailing spear and māccuahuitl and sword, you are avenger and conscious and life. This is the mystery which you must solve. Contemplate it in the days to come. Can you light the fire for the honored Dead? –
Puîyus arose and came unto the altar and the stacks of wood and the fallen fhàxhos slaves, and there was no tinder unto him, just a large and dying Sun gazing upon him. And the Monks were arisen and spilt around the slaves and waited, and Puîyus knew not what to do, whether he was supposed to make fire by rubbing his hands together or perhaps pluck lightning out of the dying Suns themselves. And the Monks waited and gazed unto him. And after a time the monks opened up their beaks and began to speak in thiswise:
– It is only in your ability to be the endless ending opposite that you can reconcile mortal and immortal together, that you can make fate and prophecy and doom all the same, that you can make war and salvation one, and a tree and marriage and an Emperor can give way to spring, and that causality can finally have meaning. We are all the dust of divine dreams. The Immortals themselves dream us, and yet even the endless Immortals had a beginning, they were the dream children of the Heavenly Father Who is eternally inside outside complete and who alone is independent of anything outside of Himself. The Immortals are river and fountain and rainbow, we swim within them, and because we are not the children of a perfect Dreamer, we are continuly being created rather than simply being. It is in the endless oneirogenesis that you can find the way to negotiate the miracles opposing and opposite which shall revitalize us all. Here in the Dreamtime we dwell in a world of nature and matter and physics all bent around dreams generated by the song and dance of the Immortals, and it was only when the Alchemists came to realize that all mathmatics and chemistry were derived from these disciplines that they began to formulate their theories on the causality of land and cosmos and being. We are all in the constant state of being born again and again, we nothing but endless potentiality arising again and again in the morning, we are never finality, we are the dream coming into form. We are like a living painting, and although the canvas is stretched and the background already set, all the characters are shifting and being redyed and flow as waves and living ships with every new iteration of paint, we are the unfinished space opera wherein every mortal has a role to sing, we are the symphony of worlds and planets and time, and you are the conductor both within it and without it, and you will breathe all the opposites into you and create the dream anew. You do not understand now, but the time will come when the crystalline crown rests upon your brow, and you will be both conquerer and pious son, you will be both victor and victim. Light the flames, our Son. –
Puîyus looked to the slaves and indeed saw how blessed they were, for their task was simply to die with honor, and Puîyus’ was the impossible one of not just winning an unwinnable war and toppling and indominitable tyrant and forging together a coalition of ancient and bitter foes, but of somehow being a fountain around which all the Dreamtime could be born anew. It was at times like this that Puîyus was glad that as the only Son of a Warrior in an aristocratic family that he was forbidden from entering the priesthood, for he preferred more the ritual and the incense and helping others than the complicated discussion upon topics he knew he could never master. But he understood obedience to authority, especially when he did not understand it, when his Father or Grandfather Pátifhar or an Elder would command without any intention of explanation forthcoming, and so nodding his head and placed his hands upon the fhàxhos slaves who had been honored to give up their lives in fhliráqha in perfumed and blood sacrifice. And somehow without his ken a miracle was occurring. The Sun above him was changing and was no longer large and bloated and red but was beginning to glow with a slight golden albeit a sickly look unto it, and the slaves were at once becoming ash and flames were bursting up from their bodies, the insectoid wihts all laid out before him, their carapaces opened up by priestly hands, their hearts removed and burnt, the bodies were shifting, they were more like white lambent flame than any devouring fire, and as they all began to burn one by one by one, their bodies were lifting upwards and were become snowwhite and pure and were flickering crystalline and entering the Suns themselves. And the Monks were all turning one by one and bowing unto Puîyus, but they no longer had anything to instruct unto their young Lad Prince. The fhàxhos slaves evaporated in the ash and fires. And the Monks were turning aside and were wrapping themselves up in their long black cloaks. Puîyus stood beside the altar for some time. He looked up and all of the Monks were gone, they melted right into the shadows of the dawn, they were like unto wraith and dark specter. And Puîyus was left alone to think about how he could become what all mortals were wanting him to be, the Eîl Pwér Khlìmepa Qírenat Swaqírenat Talamaswaqírenat of all the billion, billion worlds.
And when Puîyus had had his fill of thinking, he left the ancient and silent temple of blue and green glass, and behind him the Sun was transformed, it was white but not too bright, but flickering all about the corona were so many Martyrs and Saints glistening here in the dawntide. The skies though were still dark and unclouded and weary. In silent he walked down the long bone bridge and came back unto the rath and as he approached guards were walking all around him, and he could see that from afar Kháfha were arising and afalling about the towers, for indeed he was xhnípe xhthontatlhiiqórìyejikh, being watched from afar, and Puîyus slipped into the long and winding darkness of the selamlik and the doors dilated before him, and he found that all four of the maidens were still fast asleep, and the only change in the room was that the window was gazing out now unto a large and white Sun completely enveloped in shadow smoke and the outline of wraiths among it. And although Siêthiyal and Ixhúja had gathered up all the pillows for themselves and for their fortress, Puîyus did not disturb them by taking a pillow, but just returned to his place beside Akhlísa and closed his eyen and decided to rest and hoped that his spleen was wrong, for here at the birth of the dawntide he just knew with ancestrial instinct that this would not be a good day.
Puîyus rested in the sickly dawn. He wished to dream that the bed were a pirate ship and that the maidens were sailing with him in search for candies and treasures and exploration and glory, he wished in his dream not to have to think of regicide and dishonorable warfare or any of the complexities of his evergrowing and ay-complex household, but rather just to arise and come unto the horizon and fade away. As his souls rose and fell in sleep he became aware of moment when Akhlísa flopped o'er and landed upon him and began drooling upon his arm, and later on he could sense when Éfhelìnye arose bright and cheery and kicked herself out of the blankets and began dancing about and practicing her ballet, and he was vaguely aware of Akhlísa rolling o'er and appropriating all the pillows and sheets that the Princess had been using and squeezing them tight unto herself, and he was aware that as Éfhelìnye danced about that Siêthiyal was awakening and not being in a very good mood, and fluffs of her own pink hair were falling upon her face, and she jumped out of her pillow fortress and caught the Princess by her legs and tripped her just to keep her from dancing, and in the rolling kerfluffle Ixhúja arose and landed upon Siêthiyal’s back, and suddenly the three maidens were rolling around, and as Éfhelìnye did her best to try to escape, Siêthiyal and Ixhúja were pounding each other and snarling all the while, and Akhlísa arose and jumped down upon them and started kicking and jabbing and biting at random until finally Éfhelìnye slipped out and hid herself under the bed, and although Puîyus was aware of all this he decided to pretend that he was still asleep so he would not have to confront the issue. And as it was, Ixhúja and Siêthiyal and Akhlísa finally grew tired with thumping each other, and so Akhlísa crawled back into bed, and Éfhelìnye arose from beneath it, and Siêthiyal and Ixhúja, growling a little to each other, slipped back into the same fortress next to each other, Ixhúja grasping her sword and Siêthiyal a toy, and all five fell back into rest and sleep and dream.
Puîyus, the only Son of Íngìkhmar the last Holy Rose Knight of the Empire, the one knighted by the moonwhite hand of Empress Khnoqwísi, dreamt for quite a long time. He dreamt that he was high in the heavens and that he was falling from a great height. Wind was dashing upwards about him and causing his sleeves who dash back and forth and his cape to open upwards as the wings of a great achromatic Raven, and his hair was spinning out and back in a large and tremendous wavecloud, his tresses become the divine sways of Sine and Cosine, and yet as he fell he was not concerned with striking the ground or with being caught up in a storm, nor was he trying to fly in the natural way that birds and porcines and fishes do, he was just aware of the sensation of the fall. He dreamt that he was water and that he was ocean and that he was wave cresting upwards and crashing downwards in thousands of long and thrusting spears. He dreamt he was become cloud and that he was in the company of a large swarm of migratory clouds, that the clouds had their own tribes and families and that they following the light of pulsating and holy Stars, and that the largest of the stormclouds were the elders and the lightning clouds were warriors with māccuahuitl and sword, and that the whisps of clouds were delicate princesses, and Puîyus was a cloud child and unto one side of him was floating Cloud Íngìkhmar and to his other side Cloud Khwofheîlya and they reached out with nebulous hands and grasped his mist wrist and drew him upwards into the skies, and the priests were lifting up their staves and making the ready for all the cloudhosts as they journeyed out throughout all of Pàfhajoir Penyitàkhta. And Puîyus was a bird, he could feel the feathers rustling out of his arms that were wings now, he knew that he had the same large blue eyen, but a beak was his nose, and rather than knives and swords claws he sported, and his voice was sharp and grasping, and he was Raven and before him was an ancient and gnarled forest, and the trees were marching outwards, their leaves and palms were like shields, and all about him were arising Raven families, they were making of themselves nests out of storms of autumnal leaves, and as Puîyus came settling downwards Raven Íngìkhmar was descending and bringing a dead carrion apple, and Raven Khwofheîlya was fashioning a nest all out of petals and leaves and grass, and they ate of the apple and rested next to each other in the nest and brushed each others’ wings. And Puîyus continued to fall for quite a long time. He imagined that he was falling downwards in a tremendous spiral and all of the winds were layers of timelines all about him, and the further down he fell the deeper into the crust and strata and memory of the worlds he came, and he was falling down the ramp of a tremendous tower, and the windows were all opening up about him as myriads of eyen gazing outwards, and the first eyen about him were looking outwards unto a Jaràqtu coated in frost and snow and ancient dying Suns were gazing down upon it, and the next of the windows were revealing drachomachy and the voyages upon peiratical ship and back unto holy Eilasaîyanor and all of the miracles of the Seven Hour of the Day, and the windows were opening upwards and become the twilit hour and Puîyus saw himself walking with Fhermáta, and then the afternoontide and the air was sparkling with fresh pies, and further and futher through time he was falling. And Puîyus dreamt that he was living in a small cot beside the sea, and behind him lay a large forest filled with fishes and dinosaurs, and he was walking in the courtyard and feeding the biddies and the giant silkworms with his own hand, and he turned for some small dinosaurs and cats were chasing each other around the columns before running outwards unto a garden forming itself before his ken. And Puîyus arose. He was no longer falling but walking upon the tiled floor. He did not bother dusting off the last crumbs from his fingers, for a few white raven doves came fluttering down and fluttered about his hands and cleaned them with their beaks. A couple of the birds landed upon Puîyus’ shoulders. He walked into the cottage and was taking down the harp from his shoulders, and coming into the parlour found that Princess Éfhelìnye was sitting at her escritoire and was writing in her book in long and neat handwriting, and scatter’d about her lay stacks of recent sketches which she had made, and when she heard Puîyus she looked upwards and smiled, and a light was shining in her eyen. Puîyus smiled. Somehow in the music and logic of the dream, he knew that both of them were older, perhaps by seasons and years, and although Éfhelìnye looked the same, her eyen were brighter and were become timeless unto him. And he drew up a chair and sitting down beside her began strumming upon his harp and began to play of mystery and cloud and thwèta cosmos alike.
Puîyus awoke. It was sunlight. The Suns were high in the glass of the window, they were not as wan and sickly as they had been just at the threshold of dawnbreak, for about some of the main group of Suns a slight silvern shadow was dancing about them, the flickers of sacrificial wraiths. He glanced about the skies of the Suns, for even in their dimness they were too bright to be seen directly by mortal eye, and no clouds saw he, just a few stray whisps, and since he was used to telling time by the passage of the Suns he realized that it was already the third hour of the day and that had had slept too far and too late, and shame swelled within him. The bed was empty. The room was empty. It was cool within, although someone had lit a slight fire in the hearth, and the large and ferocious ancestrial statues that filled the walls were looming in the halflight of the room. Puîyus could hear movement outside, and heard that a few storeys beneath him and upon one of the layers of the whispering mountains that some monks were walking, and one was lifting up trumpet to beak and sounding out the rhythms of prayer, and another one was crying out – All hail the Crown Prince, the Great Crown Prince, the Rising Sun, the Prince of Princes, the Heir to Khiêro, the Son of Jaràqtu, the Prince of Khniîkha, the Guardian of the Seven Central Realms, the Anointed Son of Kàrijoi, the future Master of the Billion, Billion Dreamlands, the future Father of all the peoples, Puîyos Khàtamakh Serqheyewítsa Puîye fhwii Pètwiqhe Piîwii Pípo Pìyufhe Piyufhéyon Piyúfhi Píyufho Pìyuta Ptuî Puî Puînxhe Pùkhwei Pyuwéyon Ailínos Engòmle Fhèlenos Fhífho Fhúfho Jhkhalìkekhaun Kàthweja Khèkatos Khláyelakh Khmàqhonies Khomléle Khòmleya Khòmli Khòmlil Khomlìngqe Khyùlwa Khmàneros Khlìnos Saûral Sùthat Takàsyakhar Thaôs Wtsàtakarng Xhèthyo Ojuxauróxha Qernúnos Khajuptáfha Játanikh Khnaûxi Pratlhoîqha Xhlúkh Xhluntakhlaûselar Eîlpar Tsiîkh Tsiîkher Tsiîkheil Tsiîkhiqan Tsiîyeil Tsiikhèrkhmair the Son of Kàrijoi the Cælestial Crown Prince of all the Pwéru hail hail hail! –
Puîyus at up in bed. The door was dilating, layers of wood swinging aside, and Akhlísa came walking within. She was still dressed in her pajamas, but someone had begun working upon her hair, and although Puîyus could see a couple of jewels in her ears he did not see the eleborate clockwork earrings she had been wearing before. She bowed low unto Puîyus and came unto the edge of the bed and knelt down and kept her head low. Puîyus sniffled.
Akhlísa kept her head down. – Psst! Psst! – she hissed.
– ?? – Puîyus asked.
– You’re supposed to give me permission to speak – Akhlísa whispered. – The Kháfha say we’re supposed to start acting with úxei, with proper manners for talking and bowing et cet et cet. –
Puîyus had forgotten that his Sisters were supposed to ask him for permission to talk since they were younger than he, he found it difficult to remember since he never talked, but he had to stop his thoughts at once and remind himself that he was supposed to think of Akhlísa now as his intended Concubine, wherein case she still was supposed to crave permission to speak.
– Mew mew – Puîyus whispered and looking around and seeing no adults around thought that they did not have to so formal.
– Yes, can’t we just pretend that we’re all formal and ritualized and boring in private? It’s easier to be archaic ákèstii when all the gerons are about and bowing their heads and we have to be silent, but it’s hard to be formalized when we’re alone, don’t you think? –
Puîyus clasped his hands together in a gesture to mean, Since one does not speak, you do not need to ask me permission to talk in my presence, nay, prefer it one does that you and the Princess and Siêthiyal speak words for me since I cannot.
– We’ll try and keep one of us around you when you have to talk to the adults units, although the monks were telling the vestal virgins who told the eunuchs who told the Traîkhiim who told the eunuchs again who told us that when you snuck out and were instructed by the monks that you did quite well and with hardly a mew at all. Anyway, that’s not why I’m here. – Akhlísa was playing with the toes of her bare foot and wriggling them in the manner that the Traîkhiim had taught her to do but then stopped when she remembered that this was probably not the type of proper behavior for an Imperial Concubine and she did wish to impress Puîyus by her worthiness to be his secondary wife. She straightened up at once and placed her hands on her lap and chanted – Um, I was supposed to say something to you but I forgotted. At last you woke up you were sleeping all the while I guess you were really tired from the battle and the blood sacrifice I’d be tired too although I did do an awesome veil dance for you and I’m just absolutely wonderful at alien dances if you ask me and you should ask me, but everyone else woke up early, Éfhelìnye was out doing ballet before the rising Suns and Siêthiyal and Ixhúja were chasing each other up and even I awoke and I’m usually the last one to get up and you were asleep but at least you’re awake now. That’s a good story! Love you love you love you, kisses! The end! –
Akhlísa was doing her best to remain still, but she was swaying a little in her kneeling. Puîyus was about to get out of bed, but then Akhlísa’s face lit up and she cried out – I remember when I came. Okay. Here it goes. Oh my Lord and Husband, I have prepared breakfast for the rest of our household, and although you are still fasting because of Fhermáta’s death, we all still hope that you will join us in the tsìpaxhal, the dining room and be all great and awesome and Pueylike in your majestas, and as your Concubine it is mine honor to serve you and your future Lady and Wife and I really don’t mind at all I made the honey pouridge all myself and Siêthiyal didn’t help one bit at all, and I prepared the fruit and toasted bread and everything, and I know I’m not as good at preparing breakfast as Fhermáta was but I really am trying my best and it is lovely I promise you and love you. –
Puîyus could not possibly miss breakfast with his family, nor did he wish to disappoint Akhlísa who was become quite eager to please him. He was about to arise from bed, but Akhlísa dashed away from him and was bowing all the while, and she came to the hearth and drew out some slippers which she had left warming there for him, and so as Puîyus was about to leave the bed she set the warm slippers upon him just to make him comfy toasty. She returned to the hearth and took some incense and cast it before some statues all around it and bowed unto it just as a good daughter or wife of a Jaràqtun warrior would, and then she returned to the bed and drew up the sheets and blankets and arranged the pillows, an action which surprised Puîyus a little because Akhlísa tended to be a little negligent in making her bed. She was fluffing up the covers when the sound of some fluttering fishes outside the window distracted them, the fishes were singing for the joy of being alive.
– Did you have a pleasant sleep, my lord and husband? – Akhlísa asked.
– Did you dream about me? I’m sure you dreamt about me. –
Puîyus knew that he had been dreaming about Princess Éfhelìnye and felt a little guilty about that, for Éfhelìnye was not the one making his bed and warming his slippers and doing such domestic chores. Akhlísa drew up a pillow and found it covered in some drool and concluded that someone must have snuck into the room late at night and drooled on her side of the pillow just to vex her, and she turned the pillow around to hide the evidence. – Well, I’m sure you’ll start dreaming about me some day. I’m afraid your hair is all chaotic and dream happy. Would you permit me to smooth it down a little for you? I know you don’t like others to touch your hair, only Fhermáta you used to permit to touch and washand comb it, although I’ve seen the Princess comb it for you a little. – Puîyus was thinking that it would only be proper for his future wife to touch his hair also, and anyway Akhlísa would one day grow up and be as skilled at adorning his hair as Fhermáta had been, so he sate at the edge of the bed and let Akhlísa draw down some of his tresses and comb them down for him. Swift but sure she worked, and when she was finished and set the rewel-bone brush aside quoda she – What a lovely room the acolytes have provided for you, but it is hardly as comfortable or spatious as the rooms in the harem, there we have too many pillows and sheets for too few damsels. Well, maybe you’ll get some more wives or at least some ancillæ and the halls won’t be so cold and empty. Shall we depart now? –
Puîyus was heading towards the hearth and bowed before the lares and penates of the Ancestors, and he listened to the singing of the fishes and turned to the door to leave, but heard a rustling in the sheets behind him, and turning around saw that Akhlísa was bouncing on the bed and kicking up her legs and giggling to herself and having trouble remaining formal and serious, and she might have continued bouncing for ever but she turned around almost spinning and saw Puîyus and the door click clack clattering open before her gaze, and was reminded that she was Puîyus’ wife now, and so she tumbled backwards and laughed for a couple of moments until she gained composure, and then she rolled off the bed and straightened up the sheets a little and then coming to the door wrapped her arms around one of Puîyus’ arms and chanted – Now it’s time to be serious. Shall we go to the dining room now, lovey hubby mine? If I don’t hurry Ixhúja will eat all the food. Éfhelìnye smuggled a book to the board. And you can tell me all about the dream and when you were dreaming of her. – And so Puîyus and Akhlísa came walking out into the halls of the qtètlhi garama here at the beginning of the morningtide, and Puîyus was just hoping that his ancestrial instinct was wrong and that this would be a good day.
The dining room was far too large for just five children, but the acolytes and monks were loath to remove all the furniture from the rooms for then they would look even more barren than before, so they just saw fit to move some of the tables and stack them in the corner and to space out the chairs. As it was the five children quite easily could sit together at a single table with some light bubbles floating above them. The doors that lead to the serving kitchens were swinging open and shut and sometimes a Traîkhiim poked her head outwards and giggled a little and dove dove back within. The sòmesarl tsìpaxhal jankhènthe dining room, shokudō pal-e-don-so smelt all of honey and bread and fruit, and as Puîyus and Akhlísa were entering from one of the outer doors, they could not help but be struck by the juxtaposition of the friendly and the breakfast and the inviting with the large pillars reaching upwards and the tables stacked in the corners and so many chairs left empty, and the utter oppressive memory of this rath of days when the allies of the Poriêrii had been mighty and wealthy in children. As the twain were entering, the three who were already at board were not at all noticing them as of yet. Ixhúja and Siêthiyal were engaged in quite an heated albeit silent form of warfare while Éfhelìnye sate at the end of the table and was reading a book. Ixhúja and Siêthiyal were staring one at another and neither were daring to blink. Set before the three were the breakfasts which Akhlísa had with careful hand prepared for them all, traditional and wholesome breakfasts of fruit and honey bread and pouridge. Éfhelìnye had taken a few nibbles of her bread but was more engrossed in the book she was reading than in matters of food, for she was reading a story about her Father’s Labyrinth and the way how it bound all the worlds together, and in the tale a prince was entering the labyrinth and fighting the dragons and rescueing a fair princess in the tower, and Éfhelìnye just knew that at some point the worthy hero would sweep her off her feet and kiss her and carrying her away to his heavenly kingdom, and she could not wait to turn the page. Ixhúja and Siêthiyal were leaning close to each other, their own breakfasts only partially devoured. Ixhúja’s elbows were leaning upon the table, her clockwork locusts opening and closing in her violet tresses. Siêthiyal was playing with a few pink strands of her hair with an elegant gesture. Their unblinking eyen were locked one against the other in mortal combat. Their eyen were watering. Neither wished to admit weakness before the other, and yet the time for physical combat was passed them, now that they were all agreed to be Sisters of the Pwéru.
Siêthiyal blinked. At once her face waxed pink with regret. Ixhúja stuck out her tounge in triumph and start chuckling to herself, and then looked down comfident that she had won the game. Siêthiyal dug a spoon into the bowl of ptàxhi honey porridge, and with a contemptuous flick flung it right into Ixhúja’s face. Ixhúja blinked and wiped honey from herself. Siêthiyal placed an hand to her lips in mock embarrassment. Ixhúja thrust her finger into her own porridge and smeared it across Siêthiyal’s face. Siêthiyal just grinned. She took up some bread, crumbled it in her fingers in a slow and deliberate fashion, and then pressed her hand against Ixhúja’s face. Ixhúja grabbed a slice of kumquat and threw it unto Siêthiyal’s hair. For a moment the two just glared at each other, and then with a single mind turned to Éfhelìnye. She turned the page, and was looking with rapt attention unto the illuminated drawings and sighing all the while.
– This is the most beautiful thing I’ve read – Éfhelìnye sniffed. – I cannot possibly conceive how the hero and the princess will be able to live a long and full and happy life. Why do dragons have to be so horrible? –
Ixhúja and Siêthiyal nodded in agreement, for as long as they were silent and disturbed not their princessly Clan Sister, the battle could begin. At once Ixhúja was grabbing toasted bread and grinding it up and Siêthiyal was crushing up fruit and seeds and bashing them into paste and at the very same moment they began to throw food right at each other, silent and swift lest they attract Éfhelìnye’s attention, and it was a growing storm of crumbs that was come springing from each other, Ixhúja was smearing food in her hands and leaping up and pressing against Siêthiyal, while Siêthiyal was engaged in covert throw and duck manouevers, and Ixhúja was discovering that she did not mind missing most of Siêthiyal it if meant that some of the sticky pouridge still splattered some of her foe’s face to embarrass her, and Siêthiyal was learning to aim for Ixhúja’s brilliant violet hair, for any shame to those purpurescent tresses hurt her more than any physical damage, and within a few moments they were running out of food as they besplattered each other. They rested. They panted. They watched each other and wiped food from their faces. And at the same time they looked down the table and saw that Princess Éfhelìnye was slowly turning the page of her large codex and sighing at the story unfolding before her, and the bowls of her breakfast porridge and the platterns of fruit and welltoasted mana lay almost untouched before her, the perfect ammunitiorial prize. Ixhúja and Siêthiyal hesitated for a moment. Éfhelìnye finished turning the page and sighed. Slowly both Ixhúja and Siêthiyal sent out slithering hand towards the unguarded breakfast.
– I just feel so sad for the Princess, for even though she loves the hero they can never be together e'er e'er e'er e'er again – sighed Éfhelìnye. – I hope I don’t cry from this story. –
Ixhúja and Siêthiyal were suspecting that almost any story involving a princess and lost true love would make Éfhelìnye cry, but that was fairly irrelevant to the current task of besplattering the sororal foe. Ixhúja grabbed some fruit with cunning hand, Siêthiyal’s hands dove and duck and spied and took some toasty bread, and they both broke apart their resources and started pelting the other with increasing accuracy and splatter and were growing even more daring as they leaned almost across the table and were hissing one at another, and only stopped throwing food when they saw that Puîyus was entering the serving room, and Akhlísa was skipping beside him.
The maidens glared at each other from their opposing breakfast camps.
– Qreû, truce? – whispered Siêthiyal. – Xhlàngo, armistice? –
One does not trust you, Ixhúja glared back.
– That’s what an armistice is, a formalized way to pretend that we trust the enemy while covertly building up ninja spies and weapons. We both know the contest can never en, or at least that you are doomed always to loose, for although you claim to be superior to my brother in all ways, somehow I always find a way around him, so that makes me superior to you. –
Ixhúja flung the rest of her pilfered food and Siêthiyal quickly did the same, and not a moment too soon, for Puîyus came up beside them, and Ixhúja and Siêthiyal had to put their hands behind their backs and blink their eyen and pretend that they had been on their best behavior all the while.
– You two can be very silly sometimes – Akhlísa chanted as she came to her chair.
– What did we do, we were doing nothing at all, we were just having an innocent discussion on the dynamics of causation, just a metaphysical philosophical symposium that’s all! – Siêthiyal scoffed.
Whatever she purred, sure, Ixhúja purred to the group.
– You know you two have food all o'er your faces – Akhlísa chanted.
– Ah, an overlooked detail – chanted Siêthiyal.
Puîyus looked to the food splatteed maidens and with curt promptness proceeded to pick up Siêthiyal and lick her face clean, an action with Siêthiyal had experienced many times and did not find at all unusual although someone outside their clan surely would have looked askance unto it, and after he set her down he did the same with Ixhúja, and she hissed and growled and clawed at him but submitted just because he did it so quickly. Siêthiyal dabbed her face dry with a napkin thweî and reaching o'er did the same with Ixhúja.
– Okay we’re all here – chanted Akhlísa. – And it doesn’t look like I missed anything important. Where’s Éfhelìnye? –
– Pardon? – asked Siêthiyal.
– Purr? – asked Ixhúja.
– How many times do we have to lose the future Empress! – cried Akhlísa. – It seems like everytime I’m looking around she’s sneaking out of her room or picking a clockwork lock or climbing out a window and sneaking out of the harem and dashing through a battlefield and somehow awakening the ire of monsters and monstrious things and monstrious wihts and there she is I knew she was there all the time. –
– Hmm – chanted Siêthiyal.
Princess Éfhelìnye’s large codex remained where she had left it, but the Princess was gone, instead she had managed to sneak up to Puîyus and wrap her arms about him and lean her head against him but away from the table and the maidens. Since Princess Éfhelìnye had not been engaged in any wasteful play with food, Puîyus had no need to lick her face clean, but he thought it best still to kiss her upon her brow a few times.
– Okay, everyone, let’s eat – chanted Akhlísa and she clomb into her chair and drew her bowls before her. – I don’t mind being the youngest born and I don’t mind being the concubine and being the lowest ranked of all of you, but I do mind having to wake up when I’m still sleepy and prepare your food for you and you don’t even eat it and throw it at each other. Puey! Sit down! Make Éfhelìnye sit down also. –
– I just want to be with Puey – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– You can be with him and sit down! – Akhlísa cried. – Puey, sit here! Princess! There. Look I made special places of honor for you both. –
Puîyus lead Éfhelìnye to her chair, and the chair crawled outwards upon spindly legs and bowed down before the Princess to help her within, and then Puîyus sate down. No food was set before him out of respect for his fasting, his jún, but some crushed petals and perfumes were set upon a tray before him so that he could inhale the fresh effluvium of the air. Éfhelìnye fiddled with her plates but did not notice the food pilfered from her nor was she taking any for herself. She turned the page and continued reading.
– Éfha! – barked Akhlísa. – What did I say before, no reading at the table! At least not when our Lord and Husband is here, we all have to start acting proper before him, our honored Cælestial Crown Prince. –
Siêthiyal belched as loud as she could. Ixhúja started giggling even though she placed her hand before her lips. Akhlísa glared at her Sister and wished that her eyen could shoot daggers of flame untowards her. Siêthiyal fanned herself with her napkin. Ixhúja was laughing all the harder. – What can I say? – Siêthiyal smiled. – Maybe if you were a better cook there’d be few air bubbles in the food you set before us. One cannot help oneself. Burp! – Akhlísa was making strangling noises.
– I’m not hungry at all – chanted Éfhelìnye.
– Tee hee hee! – laughed Ixhúja.
– So, what’s the grand ole’ plan today? – Siêthiyal asked. – Wait, I feel another riproarious belch coming on. Burp! –
Akhlísa shook her fist at her Sister and hissed – By all the Ancestors, I promise you if you don’t behave before my Lord and Husband … –
– Oh stop pretending to be all formal, everyone knows you belch louder than I do – chanted Siêthiyal.
– I do not! –
– You and I were engaged in a burping contest not five minutes ago! –
– That’s different! Puey wasn’t here! – Akhlísa was panting. She looked to Ixhúja in a vain effort to form an ally, but Ixhúja was just pounding the table with her hands and laughing all the harder. – Next time, tomorrow morning, I’m serving you both mud pies, you got that, I’m giving you mud pies filled with worms and worm goo! –
– I thought that’s what you did serve us – Siêthiyal sighed. – Burp! –
Perhaps mud pies would have tasted better, Ixhúja purred and chuckled to herself.
– Listen, even the crazy Sister is joining in on the fun, that means you’ve lost this battle – Siêthiyal sighed. – Oh, it’s good to have a younger Sibling. – Siêthiyal leaned towards Ixhúja and was muttering – This way I get to torment her for the rest of her life, and when she has children I still get to mock her, openly and all the time, and there’s nothing she can do about it. –
Akhlísa’s face was beaming bright and pink. She looked down the table and saw that Éfhelìnye, although the book was closed, was staring at Puîyus and dreaming unto herself and not eating at all. Akhlísa almost wished that Éfhelìnye were hiding the book on her lap or beside the table and were trying to read in a sly fashion, that could easily be stopped with a slammed leather cover, but not appreciating breakfast was a different matter. Akhlísa saw some food flying beside her, her eyen darting from side to side, but when she looked to Siêthiyal and Ixhúja in an accusatory fashion they just shrugged and pretended that they had no idea what was happening. Akhlísa growled in anger.
– Éfha! ÉFHA! – screamed Akhlísa so loud that Éfhelìnye dropped her spoon, and for a moment Siêthiyal and Ixhúja stopped their culinary attacks one against the other. – Why aren’t you eating! I made breakfast for you! Eat your breakfast now! – Akhlísa cried.
– I’m not hungry – Éfhelìnye chanted.
– You’re never hungry! If you ate more you wouldn’t be so tired all the time! – Akhlísa was crying out in a voice louder than she intended.
– Puey is my food and drink, my sustenance and sunlight – Éfhelìnye chanted.
Akhlísa blinked in exasperation. Behind her Ixhúja and Siêthiyal were dissolving into laughter. Ixhúja was making little kissie sounds and jabbing her thumb towards Éfhelìnye and puckering her lips, while Siêthiyal was hugging herself and sighing and saying – Oh I just wuv my Puey so much I wuv wuv wuv him and can’t talk about anything else. –
– I’m just not hungry – chanted Éfhelìnye.
Akhlísa was leaning froward and crying – Didn’t you almost get eaten yesterday by the Traîkhiim! –
– I’d rather not talk about that – chanted Éfhelìnye.
– Eat now and regain your strength! – Akhlísa shouted.
– Yeah, she won’t be able to run away from the harem without any food in her – chanted Siêthiyal.
Ixhúja giggled and murmured as if to say, She’ll be too scrawny for the Traîkhiim to want to eat.
– Quite so – chanted Siêthiyal – and without all her strength she won’t be able to skulk around Puey when he’s asleep and kiss him, and that’s completely gross. –
– I prepared this food for you because I’m a pious and elegant and faithful and good concubine! – shouted Akhlísa. – Now eat it! – She shook her head towards the Starflower Princess.
– I’m just not hungry – Éfhelìnye chanted.
Puîyus tugged upon Akhlísa sleeve and mewed to her as if to say, If Éfhelìnye is not hungry we should respect that.
– Oh hush, you! – Akhlísa growled and she shoved Puîyus away from her.
– Do you remember when we woke up in our completely stupendous pillow fortress in the middle of the night – began Siêthiyal – and we found Éfhelìnye kissing Puey while he was asleep, it was just completely disgusting, but I was too tired to protest it. –
She reminds me a creature, one does not know the word for it, Ixhúja was explaining in clicks and growls, it is covered in bark and spores and sucks juices from another.
– A tlhanúsi, a spore leach – Siêthiyal chanted. – Yeah, you’re right, Éfhelìnye is surely a tlhanúse, one cannot leave her in Puey’s vicinity for even a few moments without some gross form of affection coming to pass. She may have some serious problems in her brain, I’ve long entertained that theory, but I’m far too polite to tell her to her face that she is almost certainly insane. –
– Eat my food now! – Akhlísa shouted.
Puîyus was barking unto Akhlísa, but Akhlísa no longer cared. She shoved aside her own plates, and this certainly got the attention of Siêthiyal and Ixhúja, but it was when Akhlísa jumped right up upon the table and flung herself right at Éfhelìnye that everyone paused. Akhlísa shook Éfhelìnye by the collar and shouted – Eat eat eat eat eat eat now! –
Éfhelìnye blinked a couple of times. – Okay. – She reached for a piece of toasted bread and began spreading some fruit and protoplasm upon it and munched. Puîyus was looking on but only a little surprised considering all of the shenanigans he had witnessed at the breakfast table of his growing up. Akhlísa kept her face right next to Éfhelìnye’s and watched the chewing. – And you’d better not be counting to some weird prime number or something before swallowing, just bite and chew and swallow and repeat. –
One of Siêthiyal’s hands was sneaking outwards towards the Princess’ food. Akhlísa tried to bat it away, but then Ixhúja grabbed a piece of toast. Akhlísa tried to attack that hand, but was unable to stop Siêthiyal’s incursion into the territory of the bread. Akhlísa tried to prevent the invasion of the honey porridge by licking it a few times before dipping the princess’ spoon into it and thrust it right into her face and saying – Eat eat eat! – But it was already too late. Siêthiyal and Ixhúja had already begun the cycle of giggling and staring at each other. Battle would soon begin anew.
– Mew mew mew? – Puîyus asked.
– No, I’m not feeling unwell – chanted Éfhelìnye, and as she spoke Akhlísa kept thrusting the spoon into her mouth and making her eat the porridge.
– We’re not leaving the table until this one finishes her breakfast – Akhlísa chanted. – To be the new Moon she has to be strong, and you can’t smuggle the food to Puey because he’s still fasting, nor can you hide it and give it to a pet because for some reason the monks won’t let us have pets and wild plantimals running through our kitchens, only the Traîkhiim, who seem far more eccentric than any pet we’ve had before, and you can’t give the food to the Traîkhiim because they still have to clean up the kitchens from the party. Okay, Princess, just eat one more slice of bread and four more spoonfuls of mush, and I say it’s enough. –
– Three more spoonfuls – chanted Éfhelìnye. – I prefer prime numbers. –
– When you grow up you’ll have to eat more so you’ll be strong enough to bare children – chanted Akhlísa. – I know that’s what you want. It’s … I can see what you two are doing! Puey! Make them stop! –
– Mew mew mew? – Puîyus asked.
Ixhúja and Siêthiyal both hid their hands behind their backs, and fresh splatters of food were upon each others’ faces, and they looked to Puîyus with innocent grins as if beatific they had just been leaving temple. Puîyus eyed them for a time and then turned back to Akhlísa and found her dabbing the Princess’ lips. – There, don’t you feel better? And this afternoon I’m making a big lunch for you and you have to eat it, I serve you because you are my Sister Wife and I love you, but you have to start eating and taking care of yourself because you’re the Mistress of this Family and I can’t do all the empressly stuff that you can do, okay? Anyway, when you’re all healthy and strong I’m going to teach you how to do some alien dances that will really get Puey’s attention, I’m going to dress you up all in shere sendaline and make you wriggle! –
Éfhelìnye’s face burned red. – I … I can’t do that! Don’t even suggest such a thing! –
– Okay, take your book and I’ll clean up and … stop it you two! – Akhlísa shouted.
Siêthiyal and Ixhúja were halfway upon the table and were pelting each other and so intense was their battle become that they accidently splattered Puîyus with some ricochaying food. Puîyus wiped some honey from his face and licked his palms.
– Oops! Sorry! – laughed Siêthiyal.
– Tee hee hee hee! – giggled Ixhúja.
– It’s all her fault! – Siêthiyal chuckled.
Ixhúja pointed to Siêthiyal and burst out into deeper laughter. A few drips of porridge fell down their faces, and Puîyus arose to lick his Sisters clean again. And Éfhelìnye took up her book and Akhlísa began gathering up the plates, and all in all Puîyus was finding it to be a rather typical morning, and he just wished that he could shake away the ancestrial instinct which kept wearning him that this would not be a good day.
After breakfast, or rather the quotidian melee which was breakfast for the Children of the Pwéru el qwiî fhùxhwiwi thésanemìfhla, it was time to arise. Puîyus was helping Ixhúja and Siêthiyal out of their chairs and leading them to the door while Akhlísa was wiping Éfhelìnye’s face with a napkin and dragging her from her chair. Every few moments the doors leading unto the kitchen quarters swung open and a Traîkhiim or three would thrust their heads within and blinked a few times and looked from side to side to see what was coming to pass. Puîyus looked back and saw that this time the Traîkhiim spying upon them like so many wthoâ lín gǔi were Fhólus and Aîya ay-blinking lükels sparfoliz and swaying their strouthian heads from side to side.
– Look like they got more food on table and on each other than in their jaws – Fhólus muttered.
– That the way it is with good food, should be shared and besplattered – Aîya nodded.
– Food is fellowship and life. –
– Uh-oh young melancholy Emperor looking at us. Probably still sore because we tried to eat him and his sweetheart and family. Having no idea why that should bother him, it an high honor. –
Puîyus looked back to the Traîkhiim and glared at them, and his eyen were so bright and flairing that the Traîihiim were knocked o'er and tumbled down upon their elbows and wings. He crossed his arms and stared at them, and the gentle Triîm dancers began to crawl backwards untowards the kitchen, Aîya bobbing her three wings up and down, and Fhólus undulating her two heads.
– Having a question with all due respect scary and delicious young masculine one – Aîya chanted. – May I the ask it? Unanswered I saying, am I still in trouble? –
– !! – Puîyus growled.
– From just a single feast? –
– !! –
– I we having question too! – cried Fhólus. – Am I in trouble also? –
– !! –
– You hard to please! –
– … –
– And for how long we stay in trouble? –
– Bark bark bark bark bark! – Puîyus shouted them, and the Traîkhiim just quavered all the more and dashed back into the kitchen, but loathe to go back to work they hid behind the door and stuck their heads up around the corners and saw that the maidens were leaving and the halls were grown silent, and the Traîkhiim were breathing sighs of happy relief and chuckling one to another and trying to find a way to avoid having to do any work, but when they turned around to enter into the kitchen and find a nice quiet plae to rest and dream, they found that still and silent behind them,without any sound of warning, Puîyus was standing and watching them. Fhólus and Aîya screamed in fright. For Puîyus they found to be the only wight in all of creation who could look threatening in his pajamas, and the sword that he kept buckled about his sark did not decrease from the general disappointment that radiated from him. Puîyus gazed unto them unblinking, and sparkles of blue light were appearing in his eyen, and unto the Traîkhiim twain he seemed to be asking, Will you two be good from now on?
Fhólus and Aîya screamed and ran away and disappeared into the kitchen. Puîyus sighed. He knew that the Traîkhiim had to be punished and to be reminded that they were punished, for they had disobeyed their own Qhaôtriim Elders and intended to eat the Princess and the other Maidens, although Puîyus was not entirely sure whether the Traîkhiim would have been able actually to accomplish such a feast. If Éfhelìnye had been seriously hurt rather than scared, Puîyus was certain he would have awakened, plus Ixhúja was more than capable of meting out vengeful justice unto a thousand odd Traîkhiim. But still, the intent was enough, and if the Traîkhiim were any less cute and innocent, surely they should all have been nailed alive to a tree for daring to think harm unto the Princess and the other maidens. Puîyus glided through the kitchens and all about him were hundreds of Traîkhiim washing the pots and scrubbing pans and dipping spoons into vats and cauldrons and doing their best to clean up from the party and not attract attention unto themselves, and as Puîyus dashed among them they fell upon their faces and covered their bodies with wings and tried to make themselves as small and unremarkable as possible. The kitchens were oozing with mist arising from the sickly morn, and all of the windows of the kitchen were open and revealing the sickly dawn and the Suns struggling for to arise. And as Puîyus slid and searched for Fhólus and Aîya, he was wondering whether he were become the living khlasarltayàjhwen the contradiction just as the Kháfha monks were bidding him to be tapükäl, for after all he was the one who had slain the unrepetent reavers upon the bleeding sands and broken their bodies in fire and froth, and yet reavers had only threatened and used mortal words, while the Traîkhiim had succeeded in devouring some of their numbers and wounding one another and frightening Éfhelìnye and his Sisters to a great extent. Puîyus glided through the kitchens and floated out into one of the outer courtyards and walked in the garden in the cool of the sickly dawn. Frost covered the dying ferns, he could see, and the trees were all twisted and thrawn and struggling with the weight of ice. Puîyus came forwards and touched the trees one by one, and the ice and snow broke apart, and he tried to bring some warmth unto them, and all the while knew that Fhólus and Aîya were hiding somewhere amongst the trees of the garden.
– ?? – Puîyus cried.
Fhólus and Aîya were shiveing behind a tree and clutching each other by their wings.
– He hear us question? – asked Aîya.
– He hear everything emphatic! – Fhólus hissed. – Hear movement of feather and beating of gizzard heart. –
– Still angry he question about trying to eat the Empress? –
– Who knew he could be so protective o'er his own food? – Fhólus reached out and bit one of Aîya’s ears, and she cried out, and the trees were parting and wading through the frost and soil and Puîyus walked among them.
– ?? – Puîyus asked.
– Ur … why did we run away? – asked Fhólus.
– Beause we terrified and we hid ourselves and you look really not happy with us – chanted Aîya.
– You can be the very septessence of irasculesence when you want to essence! –
– And may we remind you that this whole feast fiasco not entirely our fault? –
– Yes yes yes, see the Empress she the one who resurrected us, so it mostly her fault. –
– Yes, Éfhelìnye freeing us from slavery, and she your sweatheart woman, she freeing us from the Kèlor Masters and Aûm et cet, so really her fault. –
– Plus, and not to distract blame from Éfhelìnye, but your Sister Concubine Cousin Friend whateversheis Akhlísa, she was in charge of us all, she let us do whatever we wanted to do, so you should punish her. –
– Yes, punish her quite a lot. Poke her head. Stomp her hand-feet. She beguiled us, we not smart enough to come up with anything as cunning as tricking naïve young girl jongarthoaxéxhe thyàyoyo into hosting cannibalistic feast in guise of a Starday party trust us we too stupid to figure that out ourselves. –
– He believing any of this question? –
– Rather doubting it. –
Puîyus drew his sword from the belt upon his pajamas, and the Traîkhiim screamed all the louder when they saw that it was the glistening and flaming sword which Emperor Kàrijoi had fashioned for Puîyus out of solar flaires and living lava and pure mathmatics, and the Triîm wailed and shook themselves in mounting terror, and Puîyus let them contemplate the sword for a time, he held it above them, he let waves of fire slowly crackle up its surface, and long sepentile tounges of fire break apart from it and erupt in great and growing waves, and waves of golden light eminated from it again and again. And just to remind the Traîkhiim, who sometimes forgot such things, of the sharpness and deadliness of the Dragon Brand Eilwiyusàrtyai, he swung it around, and hisses of fire were breaking apart from it and tumbling unto the frost and snow, and little fountains of fire jetting upwards, and without any warning he grabbed Fhólus and Aîya by their five collective necks and drew them up to a dying tree half petrified in the blizzard of Winter Eternal, and he slammed them against it and held the sword right up to their torsos, and let the fires grow vast and solar and empyrean.
– We understand! – both of the Traîkhiim wailed. – No harm to the maidens! No harm to the Princess! No harm to the demoisellen! Simple commandment! One commandment! We can remember it this time, please, we know we can. –
Puîyus growled. He kept the sword right before their torsos and let a few stray beams of plasma burst out from it and singe their feathers in warning, and he did not release the Traîkhiim until they broke out into tears. He dropped them and none too gently, and let they crawl backwards and struggle like serpents in the snow. He walked after them, and when they vermiculated a little too slowly he stomped upon their hand-feet just to remind him that he was utterly devoid of humor when he came to harming the maidens he loved. And finally Fhólus and Aîya crashed backwards against the walls of the kitchen and fell down upon their faces and kowtowed before Puîyus and wept in the snow. Puîyus watched them and hoped that they were learning their lesson, and just wished that the tushed Qhaôtriim were present, for only the neuter Elders of the Traîkhiim were capable of controlling their nephew-neice-niblings and grand-nephew-neice-niblings and even great-grand-nephew-neice-niblings, but the Qhaôtriim were far away and many of them were still trapped in the downfall of the west and the collapse of the Qhíng mandates, and few of the Qhaôtriim tuskedhemes who were like unto parents or mothers of the clans of the children of Akhàkhma, for the Qhaôtriim were considered feminine and devoid of masculinity.
– We obey – chanted Aîya as she wept and shook.
– We obey, oh Emperor of Tomorrow – Fhólus chanted, and as she looked upwards and saw the concern in Puîyus’ winedark eyen she added – We obey you as if you our only xholaQhaotriîmil, our only male Tusked Elder. After all, an Emperor like an hundred tushed elders. –
– Or a thousand – chanted Aîya.
– Or a thousand plus an hundred. –
– Don’t let’s exaggerate. –
– But still very special. –
– Yes, indeed. – Puîyus watched them and thought that his work here was accomplished, so he nodded to them and swept away and left the cool of the gardens and returned to the kitchens, and Fhólus and Aîya breathed out and were happy to be alive and not crucified and impaled and chopped up into little pieces and burnt, and once Puîyus was away from their sight they started kicking and poking each other and saying – All your fault! My fault, what I do? Just had to have your feast. All Éfhelìnye’s fault, she supposed to be taking care of us! Someone have to be blamed. I we didn’t do nothing! What do you think Empress would taste like? I think she taste like giggly and whimsical love. Stop biting me, you bite me I bite you back! – And as Puîyus walked through the kitchens he kept the solar sword unsheathed just to frighten the rest of the Traîkhiim into work, and they were reminded that the Emperor was the one who brought fire and sword and wrath and the Empress moonlight and healing, and that they should probably not annoy them too much more.