The End of this Tale of Izinia, a Magical World
As Luran’s entry had closed the first glass puddle, Tomokizu was obliged to make a second, through which he passed as quickly as he could. Unlike Luran and Ishiria, Tomokizu was perfectly acquainted with where he was: in the Clockwork Garden beneath the Palace of the Great Gates in Zel Aruma. Because he was really a secret agent attached to the highest level of his government, he knew the clockwork garden was what kept his world turning. As he was more attuned to the flow of magic about him, he could tell immediately that Luran and Ishiria had chosen different paths through it, and chose to follow Ishiria’s, because she did not carry the bell that could bring her back to the present whenever he wished.
He went into the very large room, where Ishiria had flown up on her broom and into the castle above; but, because he could not fly so easily (the magic which makes brooms fly only comes to girls, but nobody knows exactly why this is), he started up the steps to one of the balconies. He was, however, too impatient to search for the stairs which would lead him further up: he already knew that many of the doors were impassibly shut, and had no wish to test whether the Moonrise Canon were truly intemporal in who and what it could remember, for the consequences of trying to break through a magic attached to it could be quite severe. He sensed, however, that what he supposed to have been Ishiria’s route of escape remained opened, so he thought very hard about the empty air becoming as solid as a tile beneath his feet, and then he put some of his magic into it, jumped up onto the railing, and then ran upwards through the, air as though it were an invisible flight of steps. Tomokizu was very pleased with this magic, which was a very old one supposed to have been invented by one of his ancestors, and which was not easy to make. He repeated it each time he reached a higher storey, until he found an open door on the highest. This, for reasons only he knew, had been left opened by Alivia’s father after he had brought his daughter and her new friend up and out of the tower for tea. The traces of Ishiria’s magic beyond it left no doubt that she had been there, though Tomokizu was quite mistaken when he imagined it the route through which she had exited.
On the other side of the door, Tomokizu found himself in a familiar empty room of two levels. A golden stairway ran along the walls, and led through a displaced square of tiles on the ceiling. He followed it at once, all the while on the trail of the traces of Ishiria’s magic, and through the ceiling entered into an elegant study. In his time, when the Palace of the Great Gates was seldom entered, it would serve as the principal entry into the Clockwork Garden, but now, it looked, from the displacement of books, and the disarray of papers on the desk, as if it were regularly used. The furnishings had not changed at all in four thousand years, or at the very least been replaced with new pieces nearly identical to the old when they were too worn to be of further use. But here, the traces of Ishiria’s magic were very faint, as if they had drifted there upon the breeze, but there was no other way she could have gone. The only other exit from the room he had just departed had, itself, been shut tightly by the magic of the Moonrise Canon, and if he could not break through it, there was no way Ishiria could have. Ishiria must certainly have come that way, he thought, and he had only to follow whatever doors were open to find her.
First, he checked under the furniture, to see if some sign of Ishiria’s former presence were not hiding somewhere, and then, when neither his eyes nor his magic could discover any further intimation of her having been there, he tried the windows, but found them all tightly shut. All other possible places of concealment exhausted, Tomokizu stepped out into the corridor with which the study communicated, and then out into the very large hall where Ishiria had first met Alivia and her father. Here, she had been twice before, so the faint remnants of her magic were much stronger, but here, he also discovered two traces that frightened him: they resembled those of the Augustness, and of her older child.
“Ishiria can’t have met with them, can she?” Tomokizu wondered. “I may have a very real calamity on my hands, rather than the one I merely imagined with Anfira, if she has… I tried to convince the present government that the magic with which I was experimenting was a very dangerous one, but the Augustness would have me continue…”
He tried to follow the trail of Ishiria’s magic further, but it had become, like the other presences, diffused by time, and had also grown faint with the passage of more than an hour since she had last been there. Tomokizu guessed from there, and proceeded from that fine hall to the even larger grand gallery of the Great Gates, and then down several other corridors, until he reached an open window. He was below the tower in which Ishiria was having tea with Alivia and her father, so he could perceive that she was somewhere nearby, but without knowing her exact location. He stepped out onto a garden terrace, to get a better view of his surroundings, but could see no signs of her in the air, or on any of the higher or lower parts of the palace visible from where he stood. After looking about for some seconds, Tomokizu proceeded, through a cultivated copse, to another part of the terrace, but there, he heard voices. Though he understood the words they spoke, their accents sounded like old phonorecords.
“Strange to think that we’re all coming to this new world,” a man with a deep voice said. “I’ve already written a dozen letters to my wife telling her of everything here, and she scarcely believes me.”
“Hoy, are you sure you ought to have done that, Sava?” another asked. “The Old Man might be cross with you if he finds out.”
“Don’t worry, Zijate, I asked first,” the first man, Sava, answered.
“Our ancestors never would have believed the clans could all have been united, and yet, here you are, Sava and Zijate, of the legendary feud, serving as soldiers,” a third man, who had trouble forming some of his words, said.
“They also mightn’t have imagined we would accept people from the Shüzikö Empire among our own, Kurino,” Zijate answered, and there was more than a hint of mirth upon his lips. “I can’t say I mind that we do.”
“Your pretty boy’s a Kapori, no less, Zijate,” Kurino answered, and he gave a great, hearty laugh.
“Hoy, who’s that?” Sava asked.
“I don’t sense anybody,” Kurino answered.
“There’s somebody near…” Sava said. “He’s trying to hide his presence, but he has a magic that’s too strange to hide…”
Tomokizu began backing away slowly — there was still a wall of trees between himself and the three men — because he heard their voices growing hostile, and sensed that two of them were men of supernatural power, jöriz, and he did not wish to test his magic against that of the ancient clans of the Sava and the Zijate. He could hear the three men searching for him, but was soon out of places to which he could retreat, so, before they could discover his whereabouts, he clambered up a wall, and discovered a higher level of the terrace. Through it, he saw three tall, bare-trunked men, all very, very well-muscled, and armed with greatswords and pikes. Each had gravings of magnificent colours and designs across his taught, burgeoning trunk.
“Hoy, up there!” one of them — a white-haired man with a very pale complexion, and deep blue eyes, shouted; by his voice, and appearance, Tomokizu knew he was Zijate.
“Hoy! Come down!” another, this one with dark hair and green eyes, who could only have been Sava, shouted to him.
Tomokizu went on running, and began climbing up another wall. He knew he was quite vulnerable, but the three men would soon have been upon him should he not have gone further, and he could read in their expressions that they had been, from the outset, quite unwilling to hear anything he had to say unless he was totally in their power. That would have cost him precious time, and stalled him in finding Ishiria, so he knew he had to press on.
“Last warning!” Zijate called from one of the lower terraces, but Tomokizu pressed onwards. He felt a powerful magic forming about him, and was only just able to stop it freezing him before he emerged into a vast indoor garden, filled with plum trees in full flower. He tried to stop and catch his breath, but then felt another magic behind him, and saw that the three men had followed.
“A transport magic… so easily…” he gasped.
“I don’t know who you are,” Sava said. “But I’ve orders to apprehend anybody who dares to come to this place uninvited. You may be made like one of us, but your complexion tells me you’re Nilan.”
“I’m sorry, I haven’t time, I must find my niece,” Tomokizu said.
“A likely story,” Zijate answered. “Your magic’s strong, but it’s no match for mine. If you won’t come quietly, I can freeze you where you stand. Now, stranger, your answer?”
“My answer is…” Tomokizu answered, and he drew his breath in as quickly as he could while making it look, as much as possible, as if he were sighing, “Time, suspend thy flight!”
Before the three men knew quite what was happening, time, for them, stood still.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I pray you may forget you ever saw me, and that you imagine I was some shared hallucination”
He tarried no longer, but rather ran, as quickly as he could, through the indoor garden, and then up another flight of steps. These brought him, in the end, into the round room with many windows, that stood between the two highest towers; Luran had not yet reached it, however — he was just a little further down the pipe, and very nearly there — so there was no trace of his magic for Tomokizu to find; the lion-dog, however, had not yet gone for his nap in the tower, but rather was padding about that very room, and when he saw Tomokizu, and Tomokizu saw him, the two were quite shocked.
“I’m looking for my niece — have you seen her?” Tomokizu asked (lion-dogs, though they cannot speak, can understand when people do), but the lion-dog only looked perplexedly at him, as if to ask what he meant.
“My niece and I need to go home, and very quickly,” Tomokizu said, and here, he told the lion-dog how Ishiria looked, and asked if the two had met.
The lion-dog, however, had sensed that Tomokizu possessed strange magic, and thought, like Zijate, Sava, and Kurino, that he might be a spy. He did not give time for any further questions to be asked, but rather rushed straight at him; had the lion-dog not been so far across the room, Tomokizu might not have had time to create a magic barrier to stop it. He backed away as quickly as he could, but the lion-dog was very powerful, and was able to break through that, and the next, and the next. Because he had to make them so quickly, Tomokizu could not make the barriers as strong as he wanted. He would have tried stopping the lion-dog itself, but lion-dogs, though they have no magic of their own, are very good at resisting it. Any magic he could have made also might have injured it, which he dared not to do, lest he should incur the wrath of its friends.
At last, he reached the glass door Luran had found shut, and very narrowly escaped through it. He made a magic to close the mechanism which locked it, and, as he then had more time to gather his focus, created a more powerful barrier over it. This one, the lion-dog proved unable to break, so he turned from it and ran as fast as he could into the tower. Its grand arched doors, he bolted behind himself, and these, he found, were sealed without prompting by the magic of the Moonrise Canon. Here, he suddenly discovered the trail of Ishiria’s magic resumed.
The tower itself was empty except for a very high stairway that led round its walls, and he hoped, from the top, that he might see where Ishiria had gone, if she were still in view on her broom. He supposed that Ishiria must have flown off somewhere once she had reached a high place, to get a better view of where she was. She could not have known, he was sure, that she was both half a world away, and four thousand years in the past.
As he climbed higher, Tomokizu looked through one of the windows along the stairway he ascended, and saw first the lion-dog attempting to open the door he had sealed shut, and, when he could not, making its way out to the other bridge. From there, it crossed over the central dome in leaps and bounds, and began rushing the door to the tower Tomokizu had entered, but to little avail: the magic of the Moonrise Canon was too powerful, and held it shut. After some minutes, the lion-dog abandoned its fruitless task, bounded over the dome, and then made its way into the other tower. Tomokizu lost sight of it then.
In the tower, the lion-dog began to nap, because it was angry, yet knew it could not follow Tomokizu further. There, after only a few minutes, Luran disturbed its slumber.
Tomokizu went back to following the magic up the steps of the tower, and went through some very fine rooms until, he came to a door, behind which he could hear a lively conversation. He hesitated some minutes, and then knocked, but, at that instant, something very loud happened on the other side. Tomokizu could wait no longer, and rushed in without being invited, because he worried the very loud something could have put Ishiria in danger. A voice shouted “Tenbo!” and then something very large and very furry brushed against him, and an exceedingly peculiar picture unfolded before his eyes, for it is here that the three separate adventures joined together: when Alivia and Ishiria had gone to the window to see who was coming to join them, they immediately spied Luran on his glider, heading towards them. They only just managed to step away before he came crashing in through the window. Ishiria hurried to pull him out of the wreck of the glider, which was quite thoroughly broken, and was very happy to find him perfectly unhurt, so she squeezed him very tightly.
“Where have you been, Luran? And what have you been doing?” Ishiria asked when she saw how unkempt he had become.
“I’ve been looking for you, Ishi,’ Luran answered. “Now there’s a lion-dog after me, and it wants to bite me!”
Before anybody could say anything, the door opened and Uncle Tomokizu came in. It was Alivia who had shouted “Tenbo!” because the lion-dog (whose name that was), had come bursting in and pounced on Luran. Luran’s face was pale with fright, but the lion-dog, now apparently very far from being angry with him, gave him a very affectionate licking until he was very wet, and then a nuzzling until he was thoroughly dry. Luran heaved a great sigh of relief once he discovered he was not going to be bitten. To this happiness was added aromas that promised tea and sweetbreads to come. Uncle Tomokizu, meanwhile, was fretting over the broken glider.
“What have you done with your clothing?” Ishiria asked Luran. “You aren’t at all prepared for a fine tea with our new friends…”
“It’s in my bag,” Luran answered, and then he pulled out his summer-jacket and fastened it, and then his socks and boots and scarf, so he was very soon dressed again. Ishiria tried to make a magic which would comb his hair, but it did not work, and so Luran had to go unpresentable-looking to tea. Alivia’s Father summoned a white drape to cover the wrecked glider and made the invitation for Luran and Uncle Tomokizu to join the tea, which was accepted directly. Two more place-settings were brought magically from the kitchen, and the repast began.
Once the tea was eaten, Luran told the story of how he had come to be there, and Ishiria told him about her adventures; Uncle Tomokizu said nothing of his, and hoped he would not be asked (and was very happy when, at the end, he was not).
“Your Uncle Tomokizu made magic bells to bring us back, though I suppose we never really needed them,” Luran told Ishiria. “We only have to ring it and we shall be back where we belong;” then he petted Tenbo’s head; he had been sitting on Tenbo’s back all through tea, and had slipped him scraps from the table when he imagined nobody was looking.
“Tenbo really likes you, Luran,” Alivia told him.
“I like him, too,” Luran answered. “I’ll be sorry to leave you, Tenbo.”
Because lion-dogs cannot speak, Tenbo answered by turning over, so that Luran ended up on his underside, and pawing affectionately at him. Luran knew that meant Tenbo did not wish for him to leave. Lion-dogs are very good at reading what people are like by their words and gestures, and so know almost directly whether they will like somebody or not, and Tenbo really did like Luran very much.
“I have to go now, Tenbo,” Luran said. “I like it here, but I live a long time from now.”
It had taken Luran some time to believe that he was really very far in the past, but he did once Ishiria had ce, which meant it had not yet been built, and it is one of the oldest cities in Izinia, and was the first one to be built there rather than brought from elsewhere.
“Remember what you have seen today is a secret,” Alivia’s father reminded; “I, Izujoto i Rashitozeo, last demon to serve as the August Ruler of Izinia, command it.”
“I will keep it, I promise,” Luran answered.
“We all will,” Uncle Tomokizu said.
“Can’t you stay a little longer?” Alivia asked.
“We’ve been in the past far too long already,” Uncle Tomokizu said. “We had better go.”
“Goodbye, Alivia,” Ishiria said to her new friend, and then she hugged her. “I wish we could have gotten to know each-other better.”
“Good-bye, Ishi,” Alivia answered. “I would write you letters, but I don’t think the postman would know how to get them to you.”
“Put them in a box, then, and leave them here with a note that they’re for Ishi,” Luran said, and then he wrote down Ishiria’s address and the year it was when they would be there to look for them.
“You’re a bright boy,” Alivia’s father said.
“Thank you, Mijato,” Luran answered.
“I shall have quite a lot of them to write,” Alivia said. “You’re going to get enough letters to last your whole life.”
“I shall go and find them as soon as I can!” Ishiria answered. “I can’t wait to start reading them.”
“And thank you both for tea,” Luran added, and then he looked at Tenbo and said, “I’m sorry I have to go now, but I promise not to forget you,” and he nuzzled Tenbo one last time before he made his way to Ishiria and her Uncle Tomokizu.
“Are we ready to go?” Uncle Tomokizu asked.
“We are,” Ishiria answered.
“Well, then, take my hands,” Uncle Tomokizu said to them. “We have to be touching for this to work properly.”
Ishiria and Luran did as instructed.
“Now take your bell, Luran, and give it as hard a ring as you can,” Uncle Tomokizu said.
Luran raised his hand to ring the bell, but, before he could, he felt Tenbo’s muzzle against his arm, and a strong tugging at the sleeve of his jacket: it was so great a jolt to his arm that the bell rang. Luran and Ishiria and Uncle Tomokizu and Tenbo, and also the wrecked glider, all vanished, and then reappeared in the secret room in the attic. Ishiria and Luran landed directly on Tenbo’s great fluffy back, and Tenbo landed directly on Uncle Tomokizu.
Uncle Tomokizu’s face was fraught with worry after he had managed to pull himself out.
“Hoy, we’ve brought the lion-dog with us — we must send him back directly,” he said, and then he took the phial which had opened the way to the past, but Tenbo knocked it from his hand, and then swallowed it.
“You won’t go back, will you?” Uncle Tomokizu asked, and Tenbo shook his head before kneeling down so Luran and Ishiria could get down. He nudged Luran affectionately in a way which seemed to say, “I’m staying!” very loudly and clearly.
“I must make away with that magic inside you, then,” Uncle Tomokizu said, and then he broke it quite thoroughly so it would not hurt Tenbo were it to spill inside of him. Tenbo then very obligingly spat out the phial, which he had been holding in his mouth, and only pretended to swallow.
Luran hugged Tenbo tightly and said, “I want you to stay with me, Tenbo, and I’m sure my Papa will like you. He’s met lion-dogs before, and always gotten on well with them. I shall tell him we met today after I took a swim, and that we’ve been together since.”
“Can we go and find Alivia’s letters now?” Ishiria asked. “You can take us to Zel Aruma, can’t you, Uncle Kizu.”
Here, there came a knock at the door. It was the woman in white with the very fine motorcar, and she carried a box.
“A distant ancestress of mine wrote these letters for you,” the woman said.
Ishiria looked up at the woman, in whose features she could trace a slight resemblance to Alivia, and said, in a voice far quieter than was usual for her, “Thank you, Augustness. I shall treasure them always…”
“I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve read over some of them myself,” the woman answered. “They’re one of few records we have of that time in our history… But don’t worry, I promise to keep all the secrets.”
“I don’t mind, then” Ishiria answered. “I’m sure they’re full of wonderful things.”
Ishiria took the letters, which smelled of very old paper, and discovered that they were a little yellowed, but that they had been given a magic which had made them keep remarkably well; there were a great many of them, so she did not begin reading right away. The Augustness took her leave, after wishing Ishiria and Luran very happy lives, and making a sign to Uncle Tomokizu that neither of them quite understood.
“I suppose there’s time enough before dinner to fix the glider, if the two of you are up for it,” Uncle Tomokizu said when he saw the wreck had been brought back with him.
Ishiria and Luran agreed it was a very good idea.
What remained of the weekend was spent flying it about Rukimara City, and picnicking in all manner of places. Before he went off travelling again, Uncle Tomokizu promised to get everything needed to build a larger, more complex glider shown in one of Luran’s books, and that he would help them make it when next he was in town. Luran and Ishiria looked very much forward to seeing him return even before he departed, but still managed to have many wonderful adventures without him. Those, however, are stories for another time.
Part I: The Surprise
Part II: Uncle Tomokizu
Part III: Flight
Part IV: In the Clockwork Garden
Part V: Luran’s Adventure
Part VI: Reunion
Text of “A Terribly Dangerous Coat” (c) 2012-2016, all rights reserved.