Friday, January 11, 2008

Chapter 27

XXVII

Off in the distance, there was muted noise. It sounded like a cacophony of voices stuffed with cotton and sealed in a barrel. Sangwine wondered at that, idly, with a mind to ignore it and drift off into a dream where he was sitting on a stone bench beside a pond. Something nagged at him, though, pulling his sleeve like a child’s hand to a point and vaguely annoying yet hardly noticeable.

Noises; noises like the ocean, rising and falling in waves. It was soothing and he sighed on his bench beside the pond. Elsewhere, a petal fell from a flowering bough and landed on the still, smooth surface and ripples slowly drove outwards in all directions. They began small, then grew in size, reaching for the shore where Sangwine was sitting. He watched with calm curiosity as the first approached, struck the shore, then strangely passed through the air and ultimately through him.

Mr. Schloeffel! a voice yelled, and Sangwine regained consciousness with a start.

It’s Schlöffel, replied Sangwine blearily. He noted his porcelain mask was in a thousand pieces beside him.

That’s what I said, barked Gilden, Now get up. What’s wrong with you? It’s just a pixie.

Just a pixie? said Sangwine incredulously. He was ignored, however, as he was helped to his feet. His worst nightmare was still reality, and the pixie was staring at him through the cracks in his box, seething with murder and cruelty as only a pixie can. Sangwine leaned back reflexively and someone held him up.

We killed you, Prince of Schlöffel, rasped the pixie, its tiny fangs curled into a Cheshire grin.

Sangwine was yet further disarmed by being instantaneously recognized. Those gathered nearby were rapt with the bizarre, fantastical nature of the situation, and even Gilden was silent.

I saw you die, Prince, the pixie continued, appearing both angry, weirdly amused, and in Sangwine’s opinion downright possessed as he spoke. The dynamics between elves and pixies had never been friendly, as pixies were prone to mischief, and elves were prone to goodness. In the best of times they ignored each other. In the worst of times, this sort of thing happened. The pixie hesitated, then looked sly.

It was the faerie, wasn’t it? Did she save you in time, Prince of Schlöffel?

Sangwine didn’t reply, but heard Gilden mutter something about fairies being obsolete in modern society.

How fortunate for you that was, Prince, but she can not save you now.

At that, the pixie burst from his box, which hinges had been weakened unexpectedly and flew in a violently threatening bee-line at Sangwine’s head. Everyone in the ring, and there were quite a few in number, immediately dove in multiple directions away from the pixie and out of the cage by any means possible. Everyone, that is, except Sangwine, who was forced to dodge the flying gambit in order to preserve his face.

He fumbled for his sword and couldn’t manage to draw it before the pixie seared towards him again, slicing the air in half with his speed and nearly slicing Sangwine’s shoulder with his tiny (but razor-sharp as they are wont to be) hand-blades. Sangwine dodged again and again, each time nearly drawing his sword but feeling nowhere near fast enough to actually accomplish it.

Sangwine knew he was too slow. There was simply no way that he could gain advantage over the pixie with speed, and dodging like this wouldn’t work in his favor very long. He suddenly understood the plight of his opponents all of these months, and upon understanding, he knew that he had to do.

Why did you attack my army at Pixie Pass? Sangwine demanded of the pixie.

The pixie paused long enough for Sangwine to draw his sword.

You ask us why we should attack an army of elves? said the pixie, smiling fiercely. You ask when you know we hate elves?

He moved to attack again, but hesitated when Sangwine brandished his sword.

We had a treaty and you broke it, said Sangwine.

The treaty was forfeit, the pixie replied sourly, and then he attacked Sangwine again in a flurry of movement. Sangwine brusqued him off until he could manage to speak again without mortal danger.

My father would never have broken the treaty! Sangwine protested, at which the pixie laughed.

Of course he wouldn’t have, said the pixie. But we found your brother’s ideas far more intriguing.

Mortal combat ensued, and Sangwine calculated. He would have to get hurt, but it wasn’t really as easy as that. He had to decide where was the most desirable place to be pierced with blades, which is never a desirable thing, and he had to work up the courage to get stabbed, sliced, or gouged in the first place. He also had to make sure the plunge was correctly executed in order to give him the best advantage. Amidst a parried turn, his course was decided for him.

The pixie’s blades, in a sudden rush, sliced through his side. He didn’t feel a thing, really, and his focus was instantly narrowed into a tiny point in time and space. He curved, turned, twisted, and he threw his sword back, away from the pixie. However, his other hand snatched the distracted pixie from the air and he yanked it by the neck to his eye level. The pixie’s eyes showed fear, for once, which gave Sangwine a measure of satisfaction. A very large measure of satisfaction, really, seeing as how all of his friends in the army were dead because of this pixie and his ilk.

He plucked the small blades from the pixie’s hands and tossed them aside, and then he addressed him directly.

I am not going to kill you, he said very plainly. The pixie looked oddly irritated at Sangwine for his nobility, and he rolled his eyes.

Walking over to the box, he stuffed the pixie back in the box and closed it soundly.

Take him back to where he came from, ordered Sangwine.

It wasn’t really Sangwine’s place to order anyone around in this arena, however, they did it anyway, carting away the sullen pixie with intent obedience. As soon as the pixie and his box were out of sight, Sangwine felt the warmth on his side, on his hip, or flowing from his side, down his hip. It ached when he twisted, and he felt rather weak all of a sudden. Looking down he saw a great deal of blood from his waist to the ground, and trailing behind him across the cage. His vision wavered, and for the second time that night, Sangwine fainted in front of an audience.

8 comments:

Matilda said...

I've been reading and thoroughly enjoying your novel since its beginning, but never before thought to comment on it. But now I just have to ask: what exactly is happening with the Schloeffel/Schlöffel distinction? When did it change? Is it some kind of inside joke? I am intrigued.

spastic-freak said...

i think it's just the way you pronounce his name aloud. upon someone mispronouncing his family name, sangwine corrected him.

wow, this is really interesting! now we know what happened at pixie pass and have a greater understanding of the events that led up to fang's coup.

Matilda said...

Nah, an 'ö' is pronounced the same way as 'oe' would be -- or at least I'd pronounce them the same. And when I asked when it changed, I was referring to the fact that when Sangwine first introduces himself at the beginning of LinT he refers to himself as 'Sangwine Schloeffel of the [can't read this] house of Schloeffel noeffel' and comes from Schloeffelonia. The name Schloeffelonia remains, but by the time Sangwine begins his correspondence with T.E.I.T.N.L. his surname has changed to Schlöffel, and no explanation was ever offered as to why. I was just interested, it's the kind of nerdy thing I pick up on. ^.^

Colby said...

It's a subtle difference in pronounciation that Sangwine almost never bothers with, in fact, the only reason he mentioned it in this chapter is because he was bleary and not quite awake.

The pixie (and pixies in general) uses more archaic pronounciations of things so he gets it right, but the only place you'll really ever see the ö used is when Schloeffel/Schlöffel is written by a member of the royal family, or someone especially intent on using the old spelling or pronounciation.

It's sort of like an old form of a word which is on its way out, and a new form is almost always used.

Matilda said...

Ah, okay! Like writing 'connexion' instead of 'connection'. ^.^ Thank you very much for explaining!

Cidolfas said...

Just wanted to finally post my comments being given the chance... I've been following LinT for ages and I'm really enjoying this backstory. You have a very unique flair for characterization, though the style is slanted towards the overly narrative (not sure I can explain what I mean by that). Anyway, just wanted to show my support! I'm very impressed! 8-)

Ash said...

I've been loving this in silence, but I just wanted to point out a small typo--down where Sangwine spares the pixie's life, the word should be "nobility," not "noblility."

Colby said...

Thank you!