Friday, May 23, 2008


My father is sick, again. Once again, it is the figs. I fear for him.

Hieram is still here. I do not know who to talk to. He is not who I -

Oh -

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hieram, Again

Hieram is here again. My life feels as if one of the Four Lords of the Deep Dark had taken hold of it and steered it toward misery. There is no place the cretin cannot find me, save the Labyrinth! One years' growth has brought him neither wisdom nor selflessness. He has set his desires on conquering me - and there is no Ennis now to help me foil him.

Today I was helping Asta wash out the great, round, copper dye-tubs in which we dye our wool, for it is the season to pick arpe, the flower-buds of the canper plant, and they must be brewed immediately into dye or the lovely blue color is lost. The dye-tubs must be immaculately clean or the dye will be ruined. I was in the courtyard with my old green leggings and short tunic, bent and scrubbing, when he came - as he is certain to do when I am unable to defend myself. Asta watched in disapproval while he laughingly tried to grasp my legs. I moved away around the tub, unable to scrub as I avoided him, yet knowing that the harvesters would be bringing the buds in at any moment. The cobbles were running with dirty water and I flicked my dripping metal-fleece at him irritably to make him go away, but he only laughed and moved closer, his lavish tunic stippled with dark water-spots. I could see his crooked teeth as he smiled.

Luckily, my mother happened to look out her window at that moment.

"Hieram!" she called sharply, "For shame! Neddeth will be Curator someday - she is not a silly chambermaid for you to ravish. You overstep your place, and it will not do to anger the Gods."

Hieram stood back, bowing sarcastically to my mother. "As you wish, Madam," he replied, pretending gallantry. But as she nodded curtly and went back to her writing, he lifted an eyebrow at me. "Until later, my love," he said, and grinned when I reddened. Then he turned and went back toward the Palace, stepping carefully through the water with his stupid, heavy gait, like an overstuffed rooster. My love, indeed!

Asta shook her head when he had gone. "That young man is a horror, just like his uncle," she said, "Don't let yourself be alone with him for a moment."

She had an odd look on her face, and I wondered at it. Hieram is a bother and rather stupid, but I can't think of him as dangerous. Still, I would not choose to be alone with him in any case. He makes me uncomfortable and angry, and -

Oh - someone is aking I m ..

Thursday, May 15, 2008

News From a Quiet Time

Eleanor has a companion.

The last three times I have come to her in my dreams, she has been speaking with someone - a man, I think, though I cannot see what his relation is to her - and I have had to be content to sit within her mind, and listen. The conversations were rich and varied, and I learned many things about this strange world you live in. Your arts are strange to me: there are no Mechanisms, no Gear Tourniers. I wonder how a civilization can be filled with machines, and no-one reaches for the art in them? I shudder at the number of machines I have seen which are created solely to do the work which should rightfully be done by people. How different our worlds are!

The man she speaks to is awkward; there is no Body-knowledge in him. He does not use his hands much. I wonder at that: how can someone so far-reaching in his speaking be so silent with the Gods? Perhaps the Gods themselves are silent, here.

In my world, things are moving slowly. I made, with less effort than I would have thought, a small set of leaping Clowns for the Spring Festival, which is supposed to be about joy and life. Our traditional Clown Engine was to be there, as usual, spinning and falling over and making great silly rollie-pollies and hand-stands to delight the audience; but I decided to make it an entourage. I carefully crafted the gears, enamelling them with many colors so they would match the Clown Engine, and housing them in elegant cut-brass carapaces. It was great fun working to make them wobbly and silly, instead of the other way round, and the leaping mechanism is quite cunning. I am proud of that.

So when the Clown Engine came out, surrounded by six leaping, tumbling children, a great roar went up from the crowd. Even I, who had seen it a hundred times before the Festival, was laughing at their antics. It buoyed my heart, and I determined to write to Ennis to tell him about it. I have heard no word from him since he went off to the University in Wurzen, though my father tells me he is well, and I have been thinking of how to write him in sisterly affection without seeming too stupid.

In two days' time, Hieram comes again, to stay for a fortnight or more. I heard this from Asta, who is close to the Greenswoman at the Palace - the person in charge of vegetables and fruits for the King's tables. This Greenswoman despises Hieram because he comes through the pantry and squeezes the fruit, looking for the best ones. Sometimes, she says, he takes bites to sample them, and then puts them back with the bites hidden. Once he did this to a bowl of fruit destined for the King's study, and the Greenswoman only found out at the last second. When Hieram is around, she locks the Pantry, but he is stealthy. It is like a war between them. What a childish mind he has! I don't look forward to his visit.

There was a great uproar last week at the College of Art and Metallurgical Philosophy, in the Western part of the city. They had a fire - not a large fire, and quickly put out, but it burned through