And here we be again, with Economous perched upon the threshold of dread and wondrous things.
I think I shall now go and have a look at the comments from last week.
Enjoy (oh, I sure hope you do - sorry for the maybe odd break in this weeks words, but the chapter had no easy place to sever it, so I just made shift as best I could...)
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR REPRODUCE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION
Chapter 4 PART 1
An Uncommon request
word ~ definition …………
In a dread of involuntary awe, Economous dropped to his knees, expecting in any beat to feel the crash of crushing violence to come down upon his neck.
It’s true! It’s true! rang with child-like astonishment in his quailing soul.
A peculiar and loud click came from the mighty creature’s mouth, like it was clashing its long front teeth together. “Do not bow to me, son of the short-lived!” it spoke with open dismay, its voice rasping yet somehow rich – a voice no human throat could make and the very same that had compliment his drawing two days gone. “Such worship is not mine to demand nor receive. Come stand again and let me behold so peculiar a creature more fully.”
Economous swallowed and slowly got back to his feet. The back of his neck pinched sharply as trembling, he dared to look the dread thing in the eye.
Is this an eating or a saving kind of monster?
It peered at him closely, almost accusingly, a stare of pale grey from eyes like nothing the would-be fabulist had even gazed into before; eyes that held secrets beyond measuring, that had watched spans of time past reckoning and witnessed calamities that would have driven lesser beings raving mad.
The would-be fabulist wanted to look away, to bow again, to not provoke this eoned creature a mite further. Yet his gaze locked with the mighty beast, he found that he could not move.
“I behold that you are a womb-born,” it spoke again, bending its face close to his so that the perfume of blossom and loam filled his senses, “who is better reconciled to what you would name monstrous things than most of your all-too-brief kind.”
It took a moment to recognise that the rabbit-beast was expecting some form of response. Economous mouth opened, but not a sound came out. He tried again, squeezing at his rebelious vocal organs. “I – I …”
This seemed enough for the creature for it continued: “It has been some time as you brief ones reckon it since an everyman has found peace and sought only gentle occupations in my wooded courts. I have enjoyed you calling on us to scribble and dream: you are a fine draughtsman, sir.”
Economous ducked his head, finding his voice at last. “Y-you are the first to say it so, my lord.” Such an appellation felt awkward in his mouth, yet to call such a magestic creature by anything else seemed profoundly unfitting.
“I am – oh son of vapour – an urchin-lord; the great undying Cunobillin you might have read on in you measurers’ library; the master of this city you Brandenmen think your own, and if I say something is so, then – Providence alone only contradict me – it is so!”
Economous had indeed read upon one named Cunobollin, a dread creature famed for terrorising the wild Piltmen – whom they called the Haraman – before Brandentown’s Burgundian ancestors came from the east to subdue them. There were many books in Athingdon’s three libraries that pronounced on many such beings and Economous had read every one, each several times, whether he had permission to or not. Most texts offered only conjecture as to the existence of any kind of recognisable heirarchy amongst monsters; the most invective refused such notions as being a signal of proper intelligence and consequently impossible. Yet here was one now, defying all common and stoutly held convention.
Refusing to fall to his knees again and incite further ire, the everyman clamped his jaw shut and vowed not to speak again before this dread urchin-lord. Yet questions were piling in his concometrist’s mind like a jam of carriages at high noon on the Spokes.
“I seldom allow any creature into my deeper sanctuaries.” The Lapinduce looked about the ruined, tree-grown cellar. “And few is the count of those whom I have welcomed into my inner courts. Most everymen fool enough to make a determined enterprise into my park find themselves upon the otherside no matter how hard press their explorations. Others come for ill reasons and seldom more than once, yet you linger in my garden week upon week and show yourself happy to do so. How curious, I marvelled to myself as I watched you quietly. But more than benign curiosity, I smell on you that you have met my frair – my brother monsters – before… and been marked by the meeting.” It clacked its teeth together and went silent, letting its observation linger.
Before a dread king of nickers, an ancient creature who so clearly fathomed far beyond the usual ken, Economous found the admission rising easier than ever it had. “Aye, when I… I was a boy, living west in L… Lo.” Even now the old reluctance tried to catch at his words.
“And you won through the encounter.”
Economous could not tell if this was a question or and observation. He answered anyway. “I was rescued by one m-monster –” was that even the right word to use before such a being? “– from – from the hunger of another.”
“And who believed such a story, I wonder…” the monster-lord’s feline eyes glittered with bitter humour.
“It was insisted that such a thing was not possible and my silence for evermore demanded of me.”
Tapping its downy, black chin with an equally swarthy fore-knuckle, the Duke of Rabbits regarded him closely. “So it has long been,” he said at last.
It seemed to Economous that – impossibilities upon impossibilities – this creature truly understood him, that in that moment he had gained the sympathy of this dread nicker-lord and that he in turn was well disposed to it. “Sir, if I may…” he dared in the encouragement of this insight. “What do you want of me?”
“I have seen you draw my little kin, son of brevity, and now I desire that you would draw me too. I would like a graphice, an imago, a spectacle de vue – a portrait – of myself, for it has been many generations as you would reckon them since the last tender soul presented themselves for the task and it pleases me to gain another. It will be a record of your passing to remind me in later centuries.”
Suddenly, Economous’ self-taught, unacademied skills seemed for the first time to him to be scant and dangerously inadequate. Yet to decline was surely worse than what ever feeble image he would produce. “If that is what you wish for, sir, then I shall do my best to grant it,” he replied with firm tone designed to bolster his own failing courage.
To this the Lapinduce perched itself upon a particularly large knobble in an oliveroot, crossed one leg upon the other, folded its long long hands about its knees and stared up into nothing like a person well suited to sitting for a portrait.
“Do – do you have a preferred side, sir?” he asked reflexively, as he did of all customers seeking a spedigraph.
“Side, sir?” the Lapinduce cocked a shaggy brow at him. “Why, my own side always.”
Economous swallowed. “Aye, of course, my lord… and… and which sphere of your face would you have me draw?”
“I think you will find this current one is as good as its twin,” the Lapinduce said with a haughty and slightly wounded air and the sat unnaturally still, chin lifted like some historied heldin from the hailed paintings of Economous' long dead mentors.
Yet the fabulist could not draw; how could he when the impossible was solid and breathing and very much possible before him? Time ceased as Economous just sat and blinked and struggled and failed, struggled and failed to comprehend his situation.
How long it was before the creature stirred could not be told but eventually the monster-lord looked sidelong to the befuddled everymen sat before him and declared dryly, “Unless you have unlocked the lost telegraphic arts of the Phlegmish goests, I do believe stylus must make contact with paper for an image to be forthcoming…”
Economous shook himself as if startled. “Oh… oh, yes - yes, indeed, sir. My apologies…” And, ears ringing and senses reeling with wonder of it all, he began to draw.
Perched upon toppled stonework, numrelogue open upon his knees, the fabulist shook his head and squinted studiously and long at his outlandish sitter, fixing the Lapinduce’ alien form into his inner eye before he dared put stylus to paper. At last – and all too aware of the oddness of his position – Economous began to draw, striving with every line to capture the full-rounded form and render it accurately on the contrary flatness of a single page. Stylus frequently hovering in pent potential mere fractions from paper as he looked long at his subject, the would-be fabulist strove to get the fineness of the glossy felt of the rabbit-lord’s silken black fur down true; to describe as precisely as he could the true relationship between the great protruding front teeth, the rabbits nose, the grand sweep of those mighty ears; to find the exact sit of the gleaming silk collar upon the shaggy neck; to find exactly how to line the profile glimpse of the mighty therian’s eon-seeing eyes.
For his part, the Duke of Rabbits made an excellent subject, sitting with preternatural stillness, never once twitching, itching, looking over to see how the portrait was coming along.