Mirrored from Sythyry.
Este, Phaniet, and Grinwipey took the door on the left of the petally room. They snuck or floated through a wide corridor, a cavern of sorts. A very nice cavern, this being Heaven. They trod upon, or floated over, a thick soft sort of carpet, orange with oranges in blue and jars in purple on it. The walls and ceiling were stone — a single mass of basalt, it seemed — but heavily planted with aromatic staghorn ferns, flowering lomatia, alarming tacca chantrieri, and the occasional desert rose. Every six feet, a twirly spiral crystal stalactite wrapped around a tall candle provided plenty of light.
The second door, just like the first, came upon them quickly enough, after a quarter-mile or less.
Grinwipey: “And this here smicker-felking door is all whodded to the tchuppers with traps ‘n boomsters, or I’m a lobster, asparagus and green pepper pizza.”
Este: “I don’t think Heaven is the place that really says ‘lots of traps’, Wipey.”
Grinwipey: “Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t, but I am personally inspecting every last inch of this door for booby-traps, boobies, traps, tripwires, trapwires, tropwires, trupwires, gizmos, and defects in the stitchery.”
Este: “Nah, don’t bother.”
Phaniet: “Actually, it seems like a good idea.”
Back on Strayway, we had a bit of a conversation.
Me: “Is it just me, or is Este being rather lackadaisical of an explorer?”
hCevian: “One of the glories of Heaven is that it puts at ease all those who come here whose hearts are pure and whose spirits are good.”
Me: “I wonder which of those I fail on. Probably the hearts-pure bit. I shouldn’t have been quite so gropey around Thenel.” Fortunately Saza wasn’t there; zie was off exploring.
hCevian: “Actually it puts at ease all whose magic resistance isn’t very strong.”
Vae: “And is that why Mellilot bit the wall so unwisely and soon?”
hCevian: “Very likely so!”
Back in the corridor, Grinwipey had finished his manifold inspection of the door.
Grinwipey: “Well, that’s as suspicious as a sponstable in a spatch-shack.”
Phaniet: “What did you find?”
Grinwipey: “Not a thing. Not a gribbulating, vorple-fooping thing.”
Este: “Well, are we going in already?”
Grinwipey: “Hate to say it, but I don’t see any delfer-be-spommed alternative, d’you?”
So Este pushed on the door, which opened without audible sound or visible doom. We all beheld the Orchard of the Cosmos, or as good as that anyways. Endless arcs of trees laden with bananas, apples, prens, mace, dreszels, cashews, mangosteens, and less and more identifiable fruit curved away from the door. Each fruit was three or four times larger than the corresponding familiar form, but otherwise, as far as we could tell, perfectly shaped. The floor — or ground — was a sweet-scented carpet of fresh moss. The ceiling, a hundred feet above, sparkled with a dense sprinkling of square stars.
Este: “I wonder…”
Phaniet: “Este, you may not eat from those trees! Remember what happened to Mellilot when she chomped on the petal?”
Este: “I wasn’t going to! I’m not as stupid as I look!”
Este: “I was just wondering why all the trees have the same kinds of bark and decussate, pinnatifid, craspedodromous, sinuate leaves, but different sorts of fruit.”
Phaniet: “That is odd, O wise worker in wood! Not that I understood all the technical terms.”
Grinwipey: “That ain’t the two-thirds of the spelcherations thereof! Look, that tree’s got bananas on one side ‘n those glutty ballish fruits on the other.”
Este: “Very odd.”
Phaniet: “Shh! Someone’s coming!”
The someone was actually six people. They were vaguely Rassimeloid in shape, though on the short side. Their necks were quite long, twice or thrice the length of a regular Rassimel neck. Their ears were huge, not much smaller than my wings, and not much different in shape either. Their tails were immense and puffy, and looked quite cuddly. The bodies were distinctly, even dramatically, female.
The one on the left had fur and eyes of a brilliant green, with highlights of yellow and blue here and there. The next one was a sweet pastel version of the same. The third was a pale pink with crimson stripes, and so on. The colors were so different and so gaudy that at first none of us noticed the obvious: that all six of them were identical in shape, down to the lengths of ears and fingers, and the only physical differences were color. They even smelled the same to Phaniet, so that she first smelled one person rather than six coming. (Oh, and their scents were a delicate and delightful perfume to her — like a Rassimel crossed with a flower. More like blossomaries than anything else familiar.)
Este: “Hello! We’re visitors to your pleasant dimension, and we hope you don’t mind.” He spoke in Ketherian, of course. Which was ridiculous; how would offworlders know Ketherian?
Pink one: “Hello! Welcome to the Heaven of Mircannis! I do not understand much of what you said.” She spoke Common.
Me: “Great staring gods, they speak Common!”
This is noteworthy because offworlders rarely speak Common. It’s a law of nature on the World Tree that everything speaks Common to the extent it can speak at all. This is one of our more idiosyncratic laws of nature (and that, from what I read of offworlders, is saying quite a bit). But I suppose that Mircannis knew Common before she helped make the World Tree — maybe she even invented it — and she taught her it to her other creations.
hCevian: “They do? I never noticed. They didn’t say much worth listening to last time I was here. Also I did not speak Common then myself! I had not been enmeshed on the World Tree at those instants.”
Este: “Hello! We are visitors! We come in friendship” He had switched to Common, too, which made everything take a very long time to say, but seemed to be rather understandable.
Pink one: “The Elfimel welcome you to Heaven, beautiful visitors!”
Phaniet: “You are Elfimel? That is your species name?”
Pink Elfimel: “We six are Elfimel, and eight hundred and ninety others. What kinds of people are you?”
Phaniet: “I am Cani; my companions are Rassimel and Khtsoyis.”
Red Elfimel: “Those are strange words! I have never heard them before!”
Which is very disturbing! The words Cani, Rassimel, and Khtsoyis are words in Common on the World Tree — three of the eight species given names in Common. So Heaven’s Common isn’t quite the World Tree’s, since it has this “Elfimel” and not the other words. But I suppose that makes sense — why would this Heaven have the names of species who do not live there?
Phaniet: “I am Phaniet; this is Este, and that is Grinwipey.”
Pink Elfimel: “Oh, no! Those are names!”
Grinwipey: “Yeah, pershiggedy right they’re names, we got names an’ we got ‘em good. Wanna make something of it, queer-ears?”
Green Elfimel: “Names are forbidden in Heaven!”