Skeinsday, 4 Pullulus

Earned 0 / Spent 0

Savings 16,036

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I find myself missing the south.  Whatever the cultural differences between there and Kernel, it seems a haven when compared to the dank oubliettes of the maréchaussée.  I’ve been a prisoner for three days now, but where’s my trial?  What am I charged with, really?  It’s hard to say.  The rough, hooting barks of the soldiers are more akin to bark rubbed against bark than Context or any other language. 

Their translators are xylem, rough little bastards made of bits of trees that convert the gist of their orders via clicks and beats.  I’m not surprised that nobody trusts xylem, but their arcane motives are lost on me, and most others in any circle I ever ran in.

I wonder if they have me for the packet I delivered to Picanne.  Things work differently in the south; bribes are taken openly as a matter of course, oil to keep the gears turning smooth.  I’m used to that kind of lubricant.

When I finally got into Picanne’s gallery I spent the morning looking at his mishapen attempts at art.  They were all of different people, yet bizarrely they all seemed to be about him.  The flat faces and interchangeable body parts, formed in blots of colour made from crushed fruit and mineral paint, had something to stay about his state of mind, and smacked of depressive obsession that eked out through the canvas in shades of blue and green.

Picanne himself wasn’t there, surprise surprise.  His packet was burning a hole in my pocket.  And yet his assistant told me that Picanne was long gone from the gallery, which is now nothing more than a reminder that he’d once existed, like a frame surrounding an empty space.  Yet the space was empty – I’d have to find Picanne myself if I was going to get the rest of my payment from Sainh.

I started at the Park.  The place is a fairytale haunt in mosaic, gorgeous in the sunlight and attractive to artistic types like Picanne.  It’s also full of those with the longest-dead imaginations, whose creative centres are degraded through time or misuse, leaving people who’re shocked by the wonderous design of the Park, highest concept, and awed into that special kind of statuesque respect reserved for tourists.

I spent an afternoon jogging between the spired, glittering houses and through the webbed fingers of a cavern adorned with broken tile.  Up the steps I sidled past fat Displacement refugees with snapping cameras, and found the place I’m looking for: the dragon’s mount, home of the oracle – El Draco, the wyrm.

The queues were horrendous.  Everyone wanted to see this fractious being adorned with spots of glass and tile.  They wanted to listen to him whisper his nonsensical prophecies, put their hands in his open smiling mouth for luck.  Some treat him as a sightseers prop and pose for daguerreotypes.  Although the maréchaussée are strictly faithless soldiers, they patrol the Park with fervour to prevent this abuse.  The wyrm may be ageless and grown in to the stone and wood, but he’s still alive.  He breathes out truths like we breathe out carbon monoxide.  They come on his voice like sea passengers from another place.

The maréchaussée kept things orderly.  We queued sensibly in their presence.  Everybody was anyway enthralled by El Draco, straining to hear his airy musings on the universe.

When my time came, I leant in close.  I’ve heard about El Draco from the Rotun, who despite being violent lunatic gangbangers do happen to come across a lot of secrets during the course of their semi-legal activities.  I’ve always wanted to get my boon from him – one per person, so the legend goes, back to the dawn of Terrene …

My first thought went to Foist.  I wanted to know how she is, whether she’s safe and healthy, and how often she thinks of me, if at all … But I told myself that I’ll learn for myself soon enough, just as soon as I save enough seeds.

I asked of the wyrm, expecting the kind of disappointment only disprovable legends can bring, Where can I find Picanne? and a breath came from the wyrm’s living mouth, rancid-sweet with centuries old gutswill, which carried his response:


Until my return and imprisonment by the maréchaussée, I don’t think any experience ever made me shiver so violently, or any one word provoke sweat in such high and cold a volume.