Mirrored from Sythyry.
This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage, «Cuisine»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she; one is crushed. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. Kidnapped and word-knotted by Kuur Molk Hasp is she, who is worthy of every curse and suffering. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.
The box — small, too small! Yet I could not leave it. Dingy, so dirty! Yet I could not leave it. Empty, and dull! Kuur’s words — their clogginess keeps me from writing to Tomolrouc or any from Gemgaru! So I write more to you, Tllith; to Xhengviades the terrible dragon; to Oioius the mad shedu; to my other pen-friends of divers species. Humans, couatls, spidersen — these I may not write to.
Nor — may I dictate messages to be sent to them.
Tomolrouc — my poor husband! What an agony of terror and despair he must be in! How having not the slightest idea what has become of me must be a hammering by axes upon his bare wings!
Choking — Nothing more will the words of Kuur permit me to say. Two hours is what that paragraph took me to write. Each single letter — after its writing, I must struggle the spell of Kuur away from giving me the choking.
Time — what good is it to me now? With a box, it is my prison.
Kuur — After much time, he came! With Douk, he lifted the box, carried to another room, raised high, slid forward until it stopped with a boom!
Douk: The mystery box is in place, my father. The totem is complete. Ugly, but complete.
Kuur: Beauty is wasted upon a totem of war, my son. It should be terrible and fearsome.
Douk: Beauty is always far from your carving and your painting, my father. It is terrible. Fearsome, not so much. Gongonhong, with a mouth made of black velvet?
Kuur: That is not just any black velvet, Douk. It was the velvet jacket of Baron Johand of Scorth.
Douk: So we’re supposed to imagine Gongonhong chewing up some Scorthian or other, and spitting out his formalwear? My father, have you truly thought this through? The people will not rally around a silly totem.
Kuur: My son, there are mysteries here beyond your knowing. The people will not rally around any totem, no matter how pretty. They will rally around this totem because it is powerful. It healed your burns and infections, my son! It can heal a hundred, a thousand, upon my command! And I, who command a totem full of true power … I shall have the worship of the people, I shall become a mighty chieftan, I shall become the axe in the hand of some God of War!
Douk: Will the people follow you, truly? You are the nephew of a chieftan, but an old and deposed chieftan, about whom the stories are not good. And it is said that you perform sorceries and wicked magic. That you entered the forbidden chambers in the old temple, and uncovered the well where things are sunken that are best left sunken, and fished therein. The rumors about you are dark, my father. I do not know you any more.
Yes! — I wanted to shout it! But could not.
Kuur: I care nothing for how people think of me. If I drive the Scorthians off and it costs me my life and honor and soul, I will think the price cheap. I am a hard man in a hard situation. I will be so hard that Scorth breaks their teeth on me!
Douk: You do not deny the stories…?
Kuur: I care nothing for the stories. I have a totem. It has powers both visible and invisible. Let the rumors about me be what they will. It is the totem of Gongonhong, who is purifying fire, not darkness. Gongonhong, not Kuur Molk Hasp, shall be the center — the ruler!
Douk: Yet you shall profit.
Kuur: I may profit, if I live. What of that? Better that I do than the King of Scorth! And you shall inherit whatever remains, my son. Keep your name and your honor bright, and you shall be a greater chieftan than my uncle. Now depart! Show the miners that the punishments of Scorth can be wiped away by Gongonhong!
The two embrace. The son departs. The father grinds and paints upon his totem. My box-prison is on top the totem, and sways sickeningly with each touch.
There is no escape for me here save my pen-pals. Write back, dear Tllith, and if new correspondents arise for you, let them write to me as well.
And when I (Tllith) got this, I did my very best to find Tomolrouc with «Language» spells. Not surprisingly I couldn’t. The only way I can write to Cleiestis is that her gods grant her something like the epistolary spell too. But that means that other priests on Gemgaru have that spell! I sent three dozen letters to them, telling Cleiestis’s full story. Finally one of them answered that they had given five copies of it to Tomolrouc and I should stop spamming their whole ecclesiastical hierarchy with it.
Tomolrouc answered through me. The poor snake … I will not quote his letter, which was for Cleiestis alone. And she’s enchanted not to reply to him per se. Her next letter was telling me all about how much she loves him, how much she misses him, and such things. I got the point and sent that — once! — to a priest.
I’d go to Tellosh to try to rescue her, except Tellosh isn’t one of the Ninety Worlds and nobody I’ve asked has any idea how to get there. I could get to Gemgaru of course, but that’s a long way off from me, and I don’t know what I could do there that the couatl priests couldn’t. (Hditr and Eric neither.)
Maybe one of them will figure something out. They are searching their old books and stories for any sort of useful clue. They say that they have never gone from Gemgaru to Tellosh — that a portal may be opened from Tellosh, but not Gemgaru.