He Gives Birth To Swimming Horses
Let me entertain you with an irony of history, as I have spend many years trying to piece together the history of the world between my days in Atlantis and my days in America. One of the peculiar things about the area now called South America is that in the first millennium of the Christian Era they neither had wheels nor horses. It is even reported that when the Conquistador cavalrymen arrived to rape the remains of the Aztlan Confederacy, the Aztecs mistook the horsemen for half horse, half man. Darken Up The Skyway
Where's the irony there? Like the Goddess it is threefold. Firstly, Atlantis had horses and wheels and all manner of things, and the Aztlan Confederacy was born out of the smouldering remnants of the Atlantean Kingdom of the West. Secondly, it was one of the twin deities of Atlantis, the Lord of the Sea himself, Grandfather Poseidon, who created the horse as a land-going version of the hippocampus, and taught his grandchildren the art of managing horses using the bridle, and so in order for a portion of the Atlantean Empire to be horse-free there must have been a campaign of extermination. Lastly it was Qualopec, military genius red in tooth and claw, who commissioned me to engineer new breeds of warriors in my lab beneath the Golden Pyramid of Aea and it was from there that the first true centaurs emerged.
One day I was visiting Astarte. She had eschewed the life palatial and tended to lurk in temple annexes. It was five or six years since she had given birth to and then sacrificed her first born, invoking the histories of Chronos and Saturn. The deceased infant had been braised on a Sacred Brazier and disarticulated with Sacred Artefacts and then Astarte, offering the sacrifice to deities that were only apparent to herself and her secret congregation of acolytes, had placed sliced slivers of baby wafers on the tongues of the faithful, urging them to eat that they might have eternal life. I reflected when I heard of the new rite that cows and sheep and wild boar were rather valuable beasts, whereas unwanted babies were two a penny in the City, and so as a religious design it made economic sense, as well as being strangely dramatic.
My sister was skulking in a monastery garden, inscribing with the help of a dictation device on a multicoloured and literally illuminated scroll the guidelines for one of her new religions.
"And thus spake the Fire God," she was declaiming as a slave acolyte showed me in. "And after an odyssey through the spheres and gateways of the heavens, the Olympian Gods came down to Atlantis and taught us speech and science, war and poetry."
"Greetings my Many-Breasted and Royal Sister, Defender of the Faith and Pioneer of the Atlantean State," I said with a smile. I should mention that with my help Astarte had begun to collect pairs of human breasts - to date, five - one for each of her pairs of dead lovers and dead offspring. It said much for her constitution, not doubt strengthened by her youth, that she could manage a pregnancy and a major operation once a year, regular as the darkness of the moons. The breasts were a bizarre affectation as well as a loving sacrifice to the state - the fertility of our agriculture was never greater and the population of the City rose fruitfully - and if nothing else it meant that Astarte never slouched when she was seated.
"Greetings to my Royal Sister, Her Royal Highness Natla, Ruler, Empress and Goddess of the Western Territories," said Astarte, with a wan greeting and the driest of happy expressions. That momentary twinge of ... what? hatred ? ... that she always displayed towards was a mere hint, soon snuffed out.
"I fear that my new title will soon become eclipsed by the discoveries of my Royal Brothers in the even further West."
"You will always be styled the Ruler of the Western Territories; it has been written in stone and law, sound and faith. The Western Territories will always be so, whatever new worlds are mapped and conquered."
"You are gracious, my Royal Sister," I replied, with a laugh, "although these important titles that have been designated to me cannot disguise that beneath my robes of gold I an ordinary woman."
"As am I," said Astarte, straightening her spine so that her naked breasts, supported (in the latest style) by a blood red leather corset, gazed at me like the eyes of a monstrous fly.
The slaves brought us runny cakes of honey and rose-hued cups of ambrosia as we sat for moment listening to the buzz of the Athena Bees gathering nectar by an ancient vectorial pattern, a figure of eight resembling the outline of an owl's eyes, whose axis - as the polarity of the planet's poles - was a mirror of that used by apiary species today. Oh lost Atlantis; what we now call East we once called West, and maps were once topped by Tinnos and tailed by Polaris! (Forgive my evocative vocative; once a courtier with courtly speech my tongue and pen sometimes fly away.)
"I've brought you a gift," I said, holding up an ornament.
"What is it?"
"It is the smallest species of hippocampus, sacred to Poseidon. A child found the dried body on a rock of the Central Circular sea and so I had the jeweller coat it and encrust it with gold and gems."
Astarte smiled at the bauble on its thin chain of palladium. "What a pretty sea horse," she said, placing it around her neck. "Is it my birthday?"
"Actually, it is," I said. "Did not Tihocan contact you about a joint celebration?"
Astarte started and wrapped a wrap around her shoulders as if chilled.
"Oh," she said after a moment. "No."
"Then you shall come with me to the Ballroom of the Palace of Azaes and Diaprepes where we will dance the Royal Dances and daze our senses with the distillates of wine and opium."
Astarte was still unstill. "I forgot Tihocan's birthday. How can one so fixated on the calendar miss such a date?"
"Lament not, dear Royal Sister," I said. "Both you and my Royal Brother have been submerged, you in your rites and Tihocan in his machines, all for the good of the State. But now the State and your Royal Siblings, myself and the august Qualopec, owe you a discrete soiree, don't you think?"
Astarte brightened. "If the State commands, I obey," she said. "Maybe the State can help me choose a party dress?"
"As Your Highness desires," I said, taking her cold hand.
So we four met the Court and danced the Kouretes and the Prylis and the Telesias and no doubt something that resembled the Hokey Pokey, but as the night drew to day we could not help but turn the conversation that which we felt the most comfortable with - work.
"I wondered," began Tihocan, pushing his latest boyfriend from his lap, "if there was any religious or philosophical aspect to man creating half-man, half-beast hybrids?"
Qualopec laughed, looked at the spurned boy who was wondering off with many a tearful backward glance. "You are unkind, my promiscuous Royal Brother," he said. "The poor lad only wants to make you happy."
"And he does ..."
"But what of his feelings?"
"He is not a Royal Prince," said Tihocan, "and so not even the bricks in the walls care."
"With respect to your interesting question," said Astarte, sipping abstemiously at a glass of water, "the gods appear to have no problem with the hybrids that you mention. Why even the Great Mother Diwija was unashamed to take the form of a horse-headed human."
"But surely that was of her own free will?"
I, of course, was the object of the conversation. "I have nearly completed the genetic hybrids that my Royal Brother Qualopec and I discussed all those years ago," I said, smiling at Tihocan to show that I took no offence. "I have a bull-headed man, and creatures that are half man, half horse, and even a winged ape-man in the hatching chambers as we speak."
I had spent many a noonday hour poring over the wisdom of the Olympeans. I had created machines that had manufactured smaller machines, and the smaller machines had manufactured tiny machines, and so on, until there was produced a nanoscopic race of spider machines, capable of exuding new DNA and RNA and QNA strands like the fibres in a spider web. These arachnobots had been scuttling about in the amniotic atmosphere of the incubator eggs, knitting herbivore with carnivore, and avian protoplasm with mammalian, their tiny mandibles flashing away in the atomic darkness until a few new cells had sprung into life, and gestation as we know it - or at least as the Atlanteans knew it - had begun in earnest, in ovo. The only real decision, the hardest design decision, was to choose the type of brain should be programmed into the new species. I had covered myself and was trying a potpourri of sentient species. The Golden Pyramid of Aea was a swelling womb ready to give birth.
"Of course, it's not too late for abortions," I added, "if that is the consensus of my Royal Siblings."
"Speaking as a man imbued with the male principle as handed down to us from the Olympeans ..." began Qualopec, only to lose his balance and tip backwards off his couch. He has been imbibing rather male amounts of fortified ambrosia and was completely drunk.
We all laughed sympathetically and ran to help him.
"Poor Brother," said Astarte, giggling and patting Qualopec's forehead with a scented kerchief. "He rushes in where fools fear to tread."
"The very definition of bravery," I said. At least I thought it was. I was far from sober myself having smoked some peyote-imbued tobacco.
"My point," said Qualopec, waving an unsteady finger in our faces, "is that if Natla has made the bloody things we may as well try them out. It's not as if we are short of wars to fight."
"All goodness comes from war after all," said Tihocan, as if this provided some sort of philosophical balm to his earlier doubts. "All incentive and invention, all the spurs to the physical excellence of athletes and to the artistic efforts of the muses. War represents the very best use of the talents that have been handed down to us as human beings. I shall begin to fashion a triumphant �Hymn to the Hybrid' in anticipation, replete with joyous flutes, heavenly voices, marital drums and ... um ... rather loud trumpets." He staggered and took another gulp of wine.
"Amen to that, my Royal Brother," said we all.
And so, I had a go.
I contacted my assistants at the Golden Pyramid; a careful process had to begin whilst I made my return by sea and I was impatient.
"Begin to decant the Amphorae of Thought into the centaur Cyllarus and the centaurides Hylonome. I wish them to be ready to birth in three days," I instructed.
"Very good, Madam," said Magnesian, my technician. "An exciting era commences for the Pyramid of Aea."
"I'll be more excited when I hear them speak," I said, and silenced the aetheroscope.
I had recorded the Amphorae of Thought from the minds of executed criminals and madmen - obviously I hadn't read Mary Shelley's Prometheus - and using the cunning manipulation of magnetic fields and electrical sparks and enriched salts and the excised nerves of octopi - manoeuvred into place by the careful claws of the arachnobots - a net, a schematic, a mental map was constructed that could be imprinted directly onto the empty cerebella of the preneonates, allowing them, we hoped, to be born with language and other skills that usually take a childhoodtime to master.
As I whipped my horse through the shallow valley in the newly conquered Trojan hinterland that would one day become the entrance to a new Black Sea and took ship on a fast square-rigged pentecoster to the Theme of Colchis, I wondered at the differences between a manufactured mind as opposed to a mind shaped by nature. The first was a forced bloom, almost bound not to be as robust as a natural flower. Maybe a better scheme would be to surgically graft the bodies of living adult humans unto the torsos and hindquarters of animals, or to spark the development of wings and horns using the humours that promote and control growth? At length I decided that this was what an experiment was - a leap into the unknown based on the best available data - and that unless I was prepared to try an experiment, I hardly deserved the title "scientist". I could always exterminate and extirpate the brood of breeds if they failed to perform or please.
And so eventually I stood bathed in the emerald green of a giant egg, peering through the membrane at the sleeping features of Hylonome the Centauride, named by me in sylvan sentimentality "browser of the wood". I had an unrealistic vision of happy males and females galloping together in a wooded glade, devoting themselves to love and the lyric arts.
"Will she be happy, will she be swift?" I asked rhetorically.
"We'll have to wait and see," answered clever Magnesian.
"Very well. Instruct Urania to begin the countdown."
"Hatching commencing in thirty seconds," came the voice of Urania over the tannoy. "Twenty-nine, twenty-eight ..."
Have you seen an egg hatch? My eggs did not so much hatch as explode with life. There was a noise like the pop of ignited hydrogen, and fragments of "shell" were thrown about the room. The floor was flooded with fluid and the foetus fell at our feet. I say "foetus" but no foal Hylonome; instead a full grown filly. She staggered on her spindly shanks and brushed the birth bath from her breast.
"My child," I said tentatively, gazing into her purple eyes.
She sneezed like a neigh and formed the word "Mother" and I wept with love over my firstborn get.
And so centaurs entered the world.
My best hopes were realised and my worst fears abated; they spoke - admittedly in the proto-Greek used by soldiers and tradesmen -but they spoke and they understood. There was no side effect to their artificial gestation; they were tall and true and swift and beautiful.
The oldest - Cyllarus and Hylonome - were crowned First Stallion and Mare of the new centaur herd, and I waited with interest to see if they could breed or if they were as barren as mules.
One day as I relaxed at the foot of the Golden Pyramid I heard the clop of approaching hooves and Hylonome cantered up.
"Good morning, Mother," she said, brushing the long mane from her face. "May I join you?"
"Of course, my darling Hylonome. It is always a pleasure to see you."
"Cyllarus is pleased with the progress that we have made. We are become expert in the use of the bow and of the fire arrow."
"That is good. And what of your ... relationship ... with the First Stallion?"
"It goes well," said Hylonome, looking a little sheepish - or at least as sheepish as a centaur can look.
"That is also good, my beloved daughter," I said.
I gave her one of my golden apples and she munched at it with many a flicking of her tail.
"Mother - I have a question."
"What is the purpose of this war that we have been summoned to fight?"
I repeated to her the words of Tihocan about the nature of man and about the prevention of his stagnation.
"Do we have the right to kill?"
"But of course, my child. The earth is ours to do as we will. Every time I bite into the flesh of a freshly baked fowl I can guarantee that the bird neither died quietly nor acquiesced in its demise. It is the way of things."
"I am a herbivore," answered Hylonome, "but I see your point. However, we are not killing for meat."
"Have you not heard of the stags and the starlings fighting among themselves for territory?"
"But surely man is not short of mates or food?"
"This is true, but our nature remains. Besides it is these territorial fights that strengthen both us and our enemies."
"Our enemies have not attacked us ..." Hylonome stumbled to silence, looking lost.
"The Olympeans have handed down to us civilisation - everything that you see around you. In return for being a chosen people, it is our duty to spread civilisation over all the lands, winning hearts and minds as we go. And our converts, in return, repay the Atlantean State for the expense of being enlightened, and everybody prospers in the long run, as we convert non-profitable kingdoms into protected tax-payers with all the services of the State at their disposal."
"Exactly, my fairest of children."
"And those who spurn Atlantis, once having had their country moulded to an Atlantean style, are unable to opt out because they are no longer able to conceive of an existence with the material benefits that Atlantis has thrust upon them?"
"Exactly," I said, pleased that Hylonome was so intelligent. "The best of all possible governments."
Little did I foresee that soon there would be a movement in Atlantis to hand the reins of the state from those trained to reign sanely to a bunch of easily panic-ed Cretans.
"But my dear," I said, suddenly concerned, embracing Hylonome around her waist and laying my head on her breasts. "Why do you weep?"
"The centaurs bridle against this bit that the State and specifically Uncle Qualopec is placing upon us. We are indoctrinated every day in between our preparations for war and yet still some of us throw up our hooves and whisk our tails and snort our scepticism."
I tried to make her smile. "And the chief caviller among these cavalier chevaliers is Cyllarus?" I teased, alliteratively.
Hylonome hung her head. "Yes, Mother," she said, neither amused nor impressed by my wordplay. Looking back, I blush at myself.
"He is a fine male," I said, "and he has the strength of body and brain that Atlantis values in its servants. I am sure that he will soon channel his restlessness against the Theme of Mount Pelion as the Rulers of the Atlantean Realm have decreed. Besides on a more prosaic level, if you centaurs and centaurides do not follow the instructions of the Royal Qualopec at whose instigation you were given breath, doubt not that My Royal Brother will instruct the Lapithae Regiment to chop you into cat food with their sickle-bladed swords."
"Come with us on our campaign," said Hylonome. "View your children in action. Maybe your honeyed words and maternal pride will sway the wilder debate to a more conventional side."
And so I joined Qualopec on campaign on the Pelion peninsula.
A hundred ships with a hundred centaurs and a hundred centaurides joined the fleet containing the massed human soldiers and bore down on the fortunate Mount Pelion flying the flag of the Lords of the Sea and of the Sun.
"An army to shock and awe," said Qualopec from the command desk of his bireme, slapping my shoulders with masculine vim. "Your inventiveness is as bright as your beauty, My Royal Sister."
"I am your servant, My Royal Brother. With my soldiers and the engines of the Royal Tihocan we are invincible, as no doubt Grandfather Poseidon - he who gives birth to swimming horses - intended."
"We will sacrifice a centaur to him and sprinkle the blood on the prow of our proud command."
I started and placed a hand on his armoured forearm. "Not a centaur," I said. "You will alienate them."
"Any one of my human infantry would feel honoured to be sacrificed."
"But the centaurs are too new. They have not lived all their lives under Atlantis."
"What better education and inspiration?" laughed bold Qualopec. "I shall allow them the honour of choosing their gift to the Horse God."
And so the centaurs chose, and Hylonome trotted forward.
"No," I said, aghast.
"Mother," she said, facing me levelly with an unblinking stare. "What better gift than the most prized? Doubled valuable since I am with child."
"With child?" I whispered.
"By the bold First Stallion Cyllarus." Hylonome tossed her head defiantly.
I took Qualopec aside to his curtained alcove, to a background of murmuring and confusion.
"I cannot allow this," I said.
"You expect me to back down in front of my army?"
"She is too valuable. Besides I view her as my firstborn and I love her."
"We must all be prepared to sacrifice our children to the gods, my Royal Sister," said Qualopec, half puzzled, half annoyed.
I fell to my knees and grasped his greaved calves. "I beg you, my merciful brother," I said. "We are blood twins and surely you must feel my distress."
Qualopec patted my golden hair. "Very well, well beloved, but we must think of a way of presenting the decision. One that does not reflect badly on myself, the commander."
"Of course," I said. "Blame me."
"If this comes back on us it will be your responsibility," he said.
"I accept the consequences, my Royal Brother."
"Very well. I will hold you to that, my sentimental Royal Sister."
And so Qualopec made a speech. The Royal Natla had decided that the centaurs were not worthy, he stated. They would only be worthy after they had performed in battle. He explained that His Royal Sister was showing the gentle-heartedness often apparent in my gender. The fair Ruler of the Western Territories was unused to the exigencies thrust upon fighting men in the field, he boomed, more used to the hearth and the home. A human man, a truly fit sacrifice, would be offered to grandfather Poseidon instead. I gritted my teeth and smiled grimly, and reflected that it was worth the price to spare the cunning daughter who had manoeuvred Qualopec and myself into an untenable position. I gazed at Hylonome, hoping for a spark of affection or gratitude, and she gazed back at me no doubt wondering if I understood my hubris and insensitivity. She did not understand what it is to rule and I did not understand what it is to be young.
Atlantis met the Theme of Mount Pelion on a flat plain linking the peninsula to the mainland. Qualopec roared to the Lapithae Regiment to form their shields into a wall and to begin a measured tread towards the enemy ranks. Then mounting his gigantic charger Mitanni he urged forward the ferocious centaur century, urging them to let fly with their spears in order to soften our opponents before the infantry arrived. The Pelion cavalry came up on our right flank slowly, horses led by pages, unable to charge mounted and armoured as they had no stirrups to stabilise them in their saddles. Instead they fired a formation of feather-fletched arrows, which the centaurides deflected with deft flicks of their circular shields. These females of the centaur race were able to gallop up to the terrified Pelions and decapitate or disembowel them before they could even react - no stirrups needed by the fair horsewomen so beautiful in their battle lust. I, watching images transmitted to my aetheroscope, wept with pride and soon any squeamishness that I may have felt was washed away by hot blood and fierce patriotic fervour.
What happened next was confusing at the time and I have had to try and reconstruct the events without the benefit of any other eye-witness or account. One thing that was true - which I had not realised at the time - was that the viral fragments and nucleic vectors left by the arachnobots in the blood of the centaurs was poison to humans. It never accorded to me that the two species would ever exchange fluids.
I saw the First Stallion Cyllarus pull an ivory horn from his bandolier and blow three short blasts. As one, the two hundred horse-people turned on the Lapithae Regiment and began to slaughter them. Atlantis had been betrayed.
I saw Hylonome dipping her arrowheads into the blood from the wound in her flank. Human soldiers shot with the gore-tipped darts slowed, stopped dazed and then fell.
I mounted my horse and rode down to the command post overlooking the battlefield. As I rode up Qualopec turned a face filled with fury onto me.
"Your creations are amok," he yelled. "Vile hybrids, dishonourable mongrels!"
"Let us intervene, My Royal Brother. We can replace the spilled milk with many a ceremony of blame and grief after the spillage has been contained. We are Royal; we must overmaster."
"And your plan, oh wise Royal Sister?"
"Take this experimental weapon from the joint workbenches of myself and the Royal Tihocan. Fasten it to your shield arm and it will obey." I handed him a device that generated, using bacteria, naphtha and luminescence, streams of aim-able fireballs, controlled via cunning nerve connecters by the user's will and eye.
"Why should I trust your sorcery?" spat Qualopec. He raised a hand as if to strike me.
"Trust Tihocan if not your blood twin and bow to the necessity," I spat back. "We are losing and must gamble on an untried stratagem. You can crucify me after the battle if we fail."
"I shall remember your suggestion," he replied, in the deepest of deep voices.
The fire-firers wrapped themselves around our arms and burrowed into our flesh. Riding forward, I thought/flung the fireballs into the edge of a squadron of centaurs. The fire-stuff stuck and there came the horrified whinnying of horses and the smell of cooking horse flesh.
""We wish to parley," I called. "Parley at the summit."
Qualopec flung the burning-ness into a few more of the liminal cavalry and shouted to the Lapithae to regroup and wait for commands. The battle staggered to a stop.
The armies parted, each to their own side, the Lapithae at one edge, the Centaurs at a second and the Mount Pelion troops (very few left and their commanders mostly slain) to a third.
We four - Qualopec, Cyllarus, Hylonome and myself - rode to a raised area in the central. Cyllarus was silent; only Hylonome spoke.
"Greetings to the First Mare of the Centaurides, my beloved daughter Hylonome," I said.
"Note no Royal Daughter I," said Hylonome.
"Noble as the horse-kind are, to be Royal is to be human."
"And we the pack horses to your atrocities."
Qualopec fixed her with a gimlet eye. "What atrocity, soldier? Explain your gross dereliction of duty."
"Atlantis destroys and enslaves. We strike a blow for freedom."
"Freedom?" scoffed Qualopec. "Freedom to live in a prehistoric past, wallowing in filth and darkness?"
"Your artificial light and mechanical noise has blinded and deafened you to the earth. Atlantis will fall and the corrupt house of Atlas will destroy itself in bestial fratricide."
"Ironic that a beast talks of bestiality, a horse-arsed whore who ruts with any male and who carries the illegitimate growth of a hell-bred spawn."
I guess I should have been watching Cyllarus, aghast as I was at this unkind conversation. Before we could react, he had hurled his short spear - no doubt enraged by the insults - and impaled Qualopec through the throat.
There was a roar from the watchers all around, but what sort of roar I could not say. I spurred forward and grabbing Hylonome's arm before she could react pointed my fire-maker at her head.
"Desist," I cried.
Qualopec slowly tipped in his seat and then fell to the ground in a crash of dented metalwork. He feebly raised his armed and armoured forearm, but the hooves of Cyllarus mushed the fire-firer into green soup. The centaur began to crush the torso of his foe with enraged and well-aimed forelegs, stabbing at Qualopec's head with his metal-tipped sword
"Cease or she dies."
Hylonome looked at me. "Let fly, Mother, let fly. I disown you and would be proud to die."
Qualopec - blinded and almost dead - with an inhuman effort unsheathed his bronze sword. With a bubbly cry of "Atlantis!" he plunged the blade into the belly of his attacker, showering himself with centaur blood and centaur gore. Then he lost consciousness.
Cyllarus staggered for moment, leaning for support on his spear, its shaft sinking into the moistened earth under his weight. Then he collapsed, leaving the upright spear as an epitaph.
I dismounted and ran to my brother. He was alive, but only just. The deadly blood had impregnated his wounds and the breath from his crushed ribs was lighter than a sparrow's.
Hylonome bent weeping over the corpse of her lover, and then, snatching up his spear gave a last cry of rebellion before plunging the weapon between her breasts, falling dead across the prone Cyllarus.
The war was over. We left the centaur dead behind - they would not let me take the body of Hylonome, despite my tears. Qualopec was packed in the hold of his warship using ice from the peak of Mount Pelion, and the remnants of the Atlantean Fleet limped to sea.
"Death to Atlantis!" cried the centaurs from the beach as we sailed away, and we sorrowfully returned to the City, our sails flying black
For months I remained in purdah. I will not bore you with my grief, nor my anxiety about the critically ill Qualopec. I offered my help - I could have grown him a body as good as new - but it was shunned. My alien-fashioned DNA had destroyed his spine, left more or less intact in the attack. Instead Tihocan fashioned for his brother a life-support system resembling the exoskeleton and legs of a monstrous crab, whose speech was based on one of his "trumpets" and whose optics replaced the eyeball that the hoof of Cyrralus had burst. To much rejoicing and in my absence, the new Qualopec clacked his way out onto the platform of the central square, and in a brass voice announced that he was recovered and was again fit to return to duty. His unturnable head was screwed directly onto the new device, whilst his useless toes dangled beneath the apparatus like the dugs of an aged cow, but the loyal citizens of Atlantis chose to see the golden and upright hero that he had been.
I redesigned the centaurs, although I doubted that anybody would find a use for them. In place of a human head I placed a horse's head. I built into their physiognomy the fire-firers whose usefulness had been thrown into doubt on the field of Mount Pelion, and defiantly set two of them as guards outside my private house, more for show than utility.
I wrote a letter to the Royal Siblings telling them of my joy at Qualopec's return and reassuring them that there would be no more enemies of the state created in the Golden Pyramid of Aea. Of the new centaurs, galloping and wheeling and neighing mindlessly in my yard I wrote;
"I have distilled the obedience of dogs with the cupboard love of cats, the flocking of birds with the shoaling of fish, the worker thoughts of ants with the hive mind of bees, the hierarchy of lions with the terror of apes, creating a will-less mentality that only lives to obey and die. I have manufactured creatures with the will of sheep and the teeth of wolves, moulding the breakability of horses to the vacant ferocity of bears. These creatures will stand if ordered in a daze for eternity waiting for that one perfect moment when they will carry out your martial will, whether you be there to witness it or not."
And so - eventually - I was received back at court.
Darken Up The Skyway