Thursday, December 18, 2008



Djserka looked back the way they’d come. “So those moironteau things have been sent by Rapteer? Dreadful.” Nictating membranes flicked over Djserka’s eyes. “I daresay that explains why His Imperial Majesty’s restricted Nexial access. Damn. I should’ve spat in Rapteer’s food when I had the chance.”

Parric shook his head. “Should be doing more than just spittings.” More alarms sounded from the chamber. “We must be leaving before they break through.”

“You think those beasts will get past the Imperial defenses?”

“Of coursing they will. This palace is operating on skeleton crewing, remember?”

“Well, staff, yes. But there’s a full Eternal Militia battalion permanently stationed in the palace.”

“Only one battalion?” said Parric in surprise. “That is buying us less time than I’m initially thinking.”

“You’ve got quite a negative demeanor, don’t you?”

“The only way Flavius and myself can be helping is to be leaving,” Parric snapped. “When we are going, so are the moironteau.”

“And these moironteau will abandon their attempts to force their way onto the premises?”

“As soon as they are realizing we aren’t here, yes.”

“Then let us gather your wayward companion and see you both off. I’ve no desire to see these ghastly moironteau rampaging through my kitchens,” Djserka said. “Where is... what was his name? Flavius? Where is he now?”

“If he has any sensings, his room.”

“I see. And where does the Imperial court have him housed?”

Parric thought for a moment, then slowly pointed an antennae upward and to the left. “That waying, I’m thinking.”

Djserka dragged a claw over his chitinous face, sighing. “I meant... nevermind. Of course you wouldn’t know which room he’s in. You don’t know which room you’re in either, I imagine. It’s not like designated guest room names are inscribed over the doorway. Oh wait, they are.”

“Now who’s being negativing?”

Djserka snorted, loping down the hall. “Follow me. You’re most likely in the Tuluxmal wing off the central tower. Were your rooms far from the petite dining hall?”

“Not particularling. Two floors down and--”

“Huh. That’d be the Cobama wing. How odd.” Djserka reached the open shaft they’d come down, and gathered the end of the silk strand he’d left dangling earlier.

“Why is that odding? We are staying there each visiting. Rapteer is staying there, too.”

“Because,” said Djserka, ascending up the shaft with startling rapidity, “that’s a secure wing. It can be sealed off to either imprison or protect Imperial guests who are dangerous or vulnerable. I wonder which category you fall into?”

Parric flew after him in silence, remembering the deterioration of their previous visit to the palace.

Djserka stepped off onto a landing roughly midway up the shaft. “This way.” The em Naga-ed-der puffed down a narrow, well-lit hall, its bulk rippling with exertion.

“Are we belowing the dining hall?”

“Three floors below, yes, but not directly under it.” Djserka turned right at an intersection with a slightly larger hall. A doorway folded down to let them pass. “This is a more direct route to the Cobama wing. I apologize for my slow pace, but I’m more adept at vertical travel than horizontal.”

“Is it much farthering?”

“Yes, but we’re almost to the main corridor. At that point,” Djserka paused to take in several deep breaths, “you’ll be able to find your own way. Here it is, now.”

They entered the main hall with its ornate, vaulted ceilings. Not ten paces past them was a group of eight Eternal Militia walking in the direction of the Cobama wing. In their midst was Parric’s simulacrum.

“Ah! Commander, sir, if I may impose upon you--” called out Djserka before Parric could do anything.

Parric’s antennae sprang alert as he recognized Commander Balam. Balam’s eyes widened. Instantly he looked back at the simulacrum, which chose that moment to evaporate into nothingness. The evening’s dinner fell to the floor, half-chewed Onimik delicacies splattering the legs of the militiamen.

“Don’t move, the both of you,” Balam ordered, his cuayab raised and ready. “Don’t talk, don’t make any sudden moves!”

Djserka looked to Parric, baffled. “I don’t understand--”

“Don’t talk!” Balam repeated, moving toward them warily.

“Get readying for sudden movings,” Parric whispered without looking at Djserka.

“Certainly you can’t be seri--”

Parric flung himself back into the side hall in a blink. Green cuayab flame lashed the archway. Djserka shrieked in terror and lurched after Parric.

“They’re trying to kill us!” shouted the em Naga-ed-der as it loped after Parric.

“Yes. I’m noticing this,” Parric called back. He’d already reached the cross hall and hovered in the intersection, airborn. The doorway lay folded flat before him. “Which other waying can I get to Flavius?”

“There’s not a direct route, not on this level. We can go up one and then back down into the main hall. But why are they trying to kill us?”

“The stay of execution is rescinded,” Commander Balam shouted as the militiamen entered the far end of the hall, cuayabs glowing menacingly. “Set for narrow spread. We don’t want any blowback.”

“I’m thinking because I’m one of the dangerous ones.” Parric flicked his antennae, concentrating on his Crafting. The folded door wrenched itself from the floor. “You should be ducking now.”

Parric hurled the door down the hall. It met the streams of cuayab fire and shattered into a hundred burning missiles tearing into the militiamen.



Clark said...

Wow! Glad your back ;>}

Jayme Lynn Blaschke said...

Yeah, me too. Sorry for the absence--end of semester projects and finals swamped me more than I'd anticipated. I'm not taking any classes in the spring, so hopefully we'll be back to my semi-regular installments.