Thursday, June 5, 2008



"You bastard." Flavius' voice was a low growl. "You let them kill me twenty-seven times?"

"Firstly, 'letting' is not even closing to the right word," said Parric, holding up one finger. "Secondly, if you try hitting me again, I'll be hurting you this time."

"But, twenty-seven times, Parric! I ken they were nae me, nae me me at any rate. But I'm holding this sword, and I feel all of these memories and thoughts. I ken they were me, living the same life as me, being the same person. That damn well makes it personal for me."

Parric gave him an impatient stare.

"Right then. Yer right. Ya taught me everything I know about parallel cosms and how they can just as easily be exactly alike--but not quite--as they can be exactly different. There's nae a body what knows better than ya. But can ya give a man a little leeway for a change? Half an hour ago I was readying myself to slaughter English and now I've got a couple lifetimes' worth of memories swirling in my head, half of 'em what I cannae make heads nor tails of yet."

Parric nodded. "Your normal state, in other wordings."

"Yer nae as funny as ya think ya are." Flavius paused, running his hand through his hair. "I need to ken who, Parric. Who's the minging sheepshagger what sent them eight-legged beasties-- what'd ya call them?"


"Uh-huh. Well, whoever sent them beasties to kill me. I'll give 'em a row to remember, enough to make up for killing me twenty-seven times, and then some."

"I'm not knowing who is behinding this--"

"We go wherever those beasties are from!"

"They've undergone changings. Their home cosms are poisonings to us--"

Flavius threw his arms up in disgust.

"--but I am having this." Parric reached among his pouches and pulled forth... nothing.

Flavius blinked, then leaned closer, peering intently at the space right above Parric's splayed wing fingers. The air shimmered, then it was gone. Flavius squinted, but the shimmer didn't return. Annoyed, he glanced at Parric and the shimmer appeared at the edge of his peripheral vision. He tried looking at it again, but it squiggled again to nothing. Deliberately, Flavius looked away, and the elusive glimpse returned. His perspective shifted, and the shimmer became a shape.

Parric held a miniature moironteau. An invisible miniature moironteau. No, invisible wasn't right. Its edges were clearly defined, as long as he didn't look directly at it. It was more an absence, a void where a miniature moironteau would be if there were one present. The very thought made his head hurt.

"Ya caught yerself one of the sheepshagger's beasties. A wee one at that," Flavius said. "I dinnae know they came in assorted sizes."

"This is only parting of one. The moironteau are existing in five dimensions. That's how they are climbing through the sky after us."

"I'd noticed that. Handy trick."

"This is the fifth parting. I'm trapping one in a dimensional pocket back at the battlefield. That is making it easy to Crafting this part away from it."

"So when ya say ya used yer sorcery--"

"I am not a sorcering."

"Fine, then. Crafted away this wee fifth dimensional part from that beastie--"

"It's not pleasanting for the moironteau," Parric said. "It's not deading, but is probably wishing it is."

Flavius nodded. "Good. So what do we do with it now?"

"We're taking it to Knowicent, eventualling. She's already identifying its home cosm, so with this she should be telling us which cosm cluster these engineerings are coming from."

"And then we pop in and slaughter the lot of 'em. Good plan. Simple and direct." Flavius looked up at the violet sky. "I dinnae suppose this is a part of Tradefare what I never seen before, is it?"

"We can't be going back to Tradefare, at least not righting away," Parric said. "Whoever is killing you--and trying to kill me--knows too muching about us. If they're still wanting us deading, they'll be ambushing us there."

"So we're hiding out." Flavius looked around the mountains, spreading his arms wide. "Where are we, then?"

"I'm thinking the western branch of the Ixch'up Mountains. But I'm not certaining. Geography is not my strongest suiting."

Flavius shook his head in ignorance.

Parric sighed. "We're in the second cosm of the Eternal Dominion of the Tricentennial Emperor."

Flavius' mouth fell open. "Ya crazy bastard. Your Tricentennial Emperor's the one what killed me two weeks back and started this madness!"

"We're needing a most unlikely place to be hiding. This is seeming more unlikely than most." Parric shrugged. "And there's a chancing--doubtingful, but still a chancing--that the Emperor is behind your killings. Other than the one, I'm meaning. If so, we're best dealing with him sooner rather than latering."

"And then we pop in and slaughter the lot of 'em. Good plan. Simple and direct." Flavius grinned. "'Cept, of course, for the Empress. We've got unfinished business, she and I."


No comments: