The images painted on the pages seem detailed but it’s difficult to have a clear idea since it’s meant to be read with tendrils and there is only a single flow torch in the room. Which, now that I think about it, has to be meant for me.
Celyz is so thoughtful while I’ve been split between Leomi and her, neglecting the former as my revenge has taken much of my attention. I shouldn’t be pursuing both.
An anguish shakes me at the thought, that of ending up alone, that of hurting and losing both. Far too late for that. I close the book, unable to focus on such things with these second thoughts about my conduct.
I wish I could avoid this, simply be her friend for now, yet I need her help to have my revenge. I, did far more than I had to for the Rykz, for Caeviel. I risked my life over and over to end the war, saved Cetyz by myself, hung the war with the Lisilese on my Lady’s shoulders.
Can’t I just have this without injuring our relationship? Again, too late, it’s about hurting her feelings, not our relationship, and past good does not allow for future wrong. I can’t stop, slowing down means death. The Little one opens and closes our fist, its own feelings resonating and reinforcing mine on the subject.
“The retreat is underway.” Celyz says passing through the circular door frame, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“Okay.” I grunt.
“Are you alright, Jessica?” She asks in a concerned tone.
“No.” I giggle. “I need your help, for my revenge.”
“I, promised it to you, my friend. There is no need to torture yourself, over it.” Celyz says in her calm resounding voice, yet fails to completely hide the emotional suffering I cause her. “What, do you need me to do?”
“Ask one of your sisters to tell her that Jessica was not on the ship that came back to Meria. That’s it, I’ll do the rest.” I tell her, doing my best to smother my internal turmoil.
“I will do so myself.” Celyz shakes her head.
“But, I don’t want…” I cut myself off before finishing my sentence, knowing that she wouldn’t take it well if I expressed my utterly selfish desire for the two of them to get along. I want you both to have me.
“I will not involve my sisters.” Celyz gently but firmly tells me.
“Okay.” I murmur.
“So! About this notebook.” She exclaims, sounding forcibly cheerful.
She hurriedly walks past me, her tendrils curving away to keep a wide distance from me. This, by itself, is enough to show the magnitude of the pain I’m inflicting on her, yet it isn’t even the only one.
The fact that she hasn’t been able to keep her appendages wrapped around her torso is a sign of her struggle in my presence, even beyond the cruel request I just made. I swallow my guilt, my self-loathing, again, again, again, again, again, again, aga…
“Jessica, come over.” Celyz calls out, setting two books on a table.
One of them is the one I took from Suxen with hard leather covers while the other is thicker with pages made of yellow parchment instead of pale yellow paper. I walk around the table to face her, setting one foot in front of the other while she opens both books, shifting Suxen’s over to me.
“There.” She tells me, pointing at a line of runes cut in the middle by a set of runic symbols arranged in a circular pattern. “This is a runic defensive construct that can be altered within seconds to counter attacks, I believe that the runes in the center are meant to be inscribed on a wheel or cog since there are many other models of this in the pages for different defenses.”
“That’s…” I fail to find words, my mind too taken by the possibilities this offers. “I could make entire construct sequences like this.” I mutter, pulling the book closer. “Like, I’ve had the idea of a shredding construct to help plow the earth since I’ve seen these ballista bolts in Meiridin, but what if instead I could sequence constructs to…”
“But how did you handle this kind of semi-automated defense?” Celyz interrupts.
“Apparently by destroying the underground they had those in.” I shrug. “They probably didn’t defend it enough to avoid construct interference or I provoked a chain-reaction by damaging something sensible. Just… let me think, I have a clue of how peasantry could make use of this.”
“Jessica, the amount of flow necessary to use these constructs would be beyond a peasant.” Celyz warns me.
“Not necessarily!” I exclaim. “Do you have any idea the amount of flow a draft horse saves farmers? Wait, no, that’s not exactly it… but almost.” I mutter, my secondary idea about how to handle energy consumption growing hazy. “Just, listen, I have this on the tip of my tongue.” Celyz simply nods, angling her ovaloid head towards me.
“If, instead, the plow had a gear that regulates three constructs, never mind the quantity of flow necessary for now.” I tell her. “A water controlling construct could work to solve irrigation issues since it could drag water along the furrows… no. I can’t ignore the energy that would take, shit.” I groan.
“Keep going, Jessica.” Celyz encourages me. “Find solutions as you encounter issues.”
“If, if there’s a cistern like the one they used to fight fire…” I pause. “Yes, the gear could simply open the valve to water the seeds instead of splitting a volume of water with every plantation. No, too heavy to drag. Maybe a water tower with flexible piping to the side of the field? I system to move water from a reservoir in Castle Lance, the rich had this and never fucking thought to…”
“It sounds feasible.” Celyz cuts me off.
“Right, right.” I nod, chasing my anger. “You don’t need that much water when planting at first, it takes a lot of work to apply just enough, if a runic gear could regulate the exact amount and water only the earth around the seeds, it would save so much work, and flow.” I trail off.
“That’s solved, keep thinking.” Celyz tells me.
“So, another gear could control seed planting, letting them fall in the furrows at regular intervals behind the plow, sounds like it wouldn’t be too difficult?” I ask, worried.
“It would require much planning and work but only to be done once and then be easily duplicated.” Celyz reassures me.
“Okay, okay.” I mutter. “The issue is water, too much of an investment to buy a cistern while gears can be made from many materials.” I groan as my mind flips from one subject to the other without pause, or apparent logic. “Dragging water from the underground up to the surface could be done, but the energy requirement is…” I pause. “No, it can be.” I affirm. “With this, farmers will do the work in a fraction of the time, they could save a week’s worth of flow regeneration to fuel these constructs for a day. Also, as long as the runic constructs are streamlined and people train in it, it’ll reduce the consumption…”
“The fact that there is less work to be done should save energy to begin with.” Celyz tells me.
“Less work?” I ask, blinking.
“It sounds like you want to make a plow that can seed as well as water behind itself, that would mean fewer passages and as such less work.” Celyz explains.
“Oh, right, I’m stupid.” I slam my palm at my forehead.
“No, but I am starting to think that I am for still underestimating you.” Celyz mutters.
“What, no!” I protest, gazing up at her, baffled that she could think so.
“Keep talking, Jessica.” Celyz gently commands me, flipping around. She makes her way to another table to take hold of a brush, a bottle of paint, and a piece of parchment.
“Okay.” I hesitantly agree, looking back down at Suxen’s notebook. “So, if I split the segment manages the stream of water into several dozen tiny segments handling trickles, it’ll reduce the drag of pulling it out of the ground. That’ll be tough to handle, I’ll need another few segments just to manage that, for timing and pathways… but I don’t know any segments that can do that, conditional and timer ones aren’t quite what’s needed here.”
“I do, it is feasible.” Celyz tells me.
“Hm. The gear that controls planting can be simple, just a trap that opens and closes.” I pause. “No, that’ll spill way too many seeds.” I gripe.
“There, draw your idea out.” Celyz says, shifting her writing implements over to me.
I seize the brush with a shaky hand, laying down a terrible approximation of a draft horse and a two-headed plow, figuring that there’s no reason to be cheap at the expense of efficiency since this is already going to be too expensive for the vast majority of peasants.
“If I add a second gear to split off the seeds into handfuls…” I murmur, half-drawing that down before interrupting myself to scribble symbols on the parchment’s margins for the irrigation runic construct. “We wouldn’t have to spend so much time dealing with the issue of water from wells, lakes, or whatever if we take it from what’s already in the ground. The nourishing construct adds a layer of complication but it doesn’t require much energy and is so effective even for the time and energy it cost before that it needs to be put in as well.”
I shift to another margin and paint a few words about that down before going back to my shitty drawing of the plow to add a couple of handles at the back on which I draw a runic gear to signify that the construct parameters could be controlled there.
Next, I focus on finishing the first draft of the irrigation construct, which would likely blow up in my face in some way if I tried to activate it right now considering I’m using my personal runic alphabet which isn’t quite set in my own mind. I throw a quick worried glance up at Celyz, finding her intently concentrated on me.
“This isn’t going to be stable, is it?” I ask her.
“Not as it is.” She agrees. “You have a lot of constructs operating on the same space at the same time right now, but it is not insurmountable since you can stagger these effects so they don’t interfere with each other.”
“Making this entire thing more complicated.” I groan.
“Yes, but you are making use of already existing constructs so the bulk of the work is in adapting them for this purpose, which is easier but still no simple task.” Celyz tells me.
“What? No, that’s easy.” I blink. “Look.”
I shape a water controlling construct in the air and make the changes to turn them into my vision of the irrigation construct on the fly, shifting and rearranging segments according to the core logical architecture.
“The core describes and directs the way water behaves, right?” I ask rhetorically. “That’s not going to change at all, what I’m doing is rearranging the segments to…” I pause, catching the slight shift in Celyz’ tendrils signifying that I lost her. I revert the construct to the water one to make the changes in real time as I explain the procedure. “There, these two merged segments control the direction and impetus of the water so if I split them into twelve pairs, like this, I now have twelve tiny trickles of water instead of a stream. Now, this timer segment manages the speed at which energy is consumed by the construct, which indirectly controls the water’s speed, that will be controlled by the farmer when they use the plow. What I’m doing is add a secondary timer that I set on a loop with a conditional segment that resets it every time it hits zero, another conditional segment attached to that secondary timer activates when it hits zero to deactivate six of the twelve segment pairs that control the water which means that it is then freed to disperse and irrigate the earth. Since the water is only pumped from below, all you have to do is keep pushing the plow while another set of looped timer and conditional segments reactivate the water controlling segment pairs so that they’re replenished while the other six pairs are deactivated thanks to a conditional segment that changes the other conditional segment’s target to these six when the other six are deactivated.” I bite my lower lip, knowing that I must sound insane and that my words are too vague, too repetitive, not specific enough.
“Give me a moment, you went too fast.” Celyz tells me, her tendrils folding around her torso. “The benefit of this being a runic construct is that you won’t need to have an entire portion of your construct dedicated to recreating the water controlling pairs you deactivate and reactivate since the pairs would eventually shatter on a normal construct, but the material you engrave the runes on will be put under quite a strain.” She makes an awkward pause. “But, this is still not going to work like this, Jessica. Those conditional segments that are almost entirely intent based are very close to unstructured flow and will consume exponentially more energy the more you stack them onto your construct. Not to mention it will make learning to use this set of runic constructs extremely complicated.”
“I realize now.” I groan. “The construct itself is too intricate to remain stable.”
“Yes and no, it will be unstable because of the loops and because much of this functions on flow interpretation over a mechanical construct structure. Intricate segments should be stable if your construct architecture is viable.” Celyz explains.
“Then, it is doable if I just… instead of conditional segments that are intent based, I need rigid segments to fill their roles.” I say, shattering the irrigation construct. “It’s just a first draft after all.”
“It is. You need to learn how to use a more refined set of conditional segments using the ‘if’, ‘or’, ‘not’, ‘then’, ‘and’ structure.” Celyz explains.
“The ‘if or not then and’ structure.” I deadpan.
“Yes, no, it is…” Celyz stutters. “Language applied to mathematics and construct creation?” She asks uncertainly.
“Are you then sure not if?” I question, repressing a giggle.
“No, it is.” Celyz stumbles on her words, panicking for a moment before freezing and slowly turning to me while waving her tendrils around herself in an ominous manner. “You are doing that on purpose.” She accuses, outraged.
I burst into laughter. Celyz slams her right foot into the ground, showing her discontent. I can’t help but giggle, holding my stomach. My sweet Princess wraps her appendages tight around her torso, while bending her reversed knees to lower her height, closing herself off. I sober up in an instant.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to vex you.” I hurriedly tell her.
“Hmph.” Celyz scoffs. I can’t help but smile in relief and amusement as I realize that she’s only pouting.
“You’re the best, Celyz, please explain. I really didn’t entirely understand, I get that it’s a language but not how that sequence of words can make a difference.” I tell her.
“A philosopher of old, Arfiasl from Haitia, set the basics of logic. I have not managed to acquire her treaties but the University developed a set of segments from the axioms which I did obtain. The segments are used to stabilize complex constructs but their potential remains largely to be explored.” Celyz explains. “These segments allow to crystallize and direct other segment functions. Suxen herself has touched on this in several treaties and she seems to have used the concept with these gears.”
“Okay, setting that aside since it’ll take a while to learn and apply.” I say, seizing the brush. “I need to solve the sowing mechanism.”
“Perhaps a wheel.” Celyz suggests. “Like what water mills use.”
“Oh, that’s genius!” I exclaim, drawing a quick circle with some lines. “And with some runes engraved on the wheel and axle, I could add a nourishing construct that only activates for a brief moment, just a brief high-intensity exposure to kick-start the growth… No, it would be simpler to engrave a runic construct on the underside of the sowing mechanism to deliver a weaker but constant nourishing field.”
“What about the shredding construct as you suggested to help with plowing?” Celyz asks.
“I don’t know it, or how intense the energy requirement is.” I shake my head. “And it would be most useful without a draft horse, it seems redundant if one has a horse already.” I tell her.
“I can teach it to you, the energy requirement is relatively intense, about a half-portion to achieve a visible effect.” Celyz tells me. “It takes a handful of arrows with the smallest required energy investment to shatter a wooden shield or a single one with a half-portion to shatter one directly. Depending on the thickness and whether they are reinforced by metal, of course.”
“So, not something of use.” I note.
“It could be to you since you are intent on returning to your previous life, it is one construct that does not require much access.” Celyz comments in a calm voice.
“What else could you teach me?” I ask.
“Many things, but so little time. A construct to maintain gear, another to preserve a weapon’s edge, a few to prevent the decay effect that runic constructs have on materials but that one takes extensive teaching to do correctly. Also some agricultural ones that I could share but that I would ask you not to teach to anyone else.” She tells me.
“I don’t think I’m going to be able to do much farming.” I note with a grimace. “What about combat?” I ask.
“Most are specific to Rykz biology. Perhaps you could make use of the phalanxes’ constructs but it would put you in danger if the Empire found out you know these secrets so I do not think it would do you much good, especially since the most effective one can only be used as a unit.” Celyz shakes her head. “I apologize, I am listing those I cannot teach you. I sound like I do not want to help but the truth is that I’m afraid you will no longer need me if I do.”
“Celyz, I’ll forever need you.” I softly reassure her. “Your knowledge isn’t what I’m attracted to, your mind is.”
“It is difficult, Jessica. It feels like you are leaving, yet you remain here, it is like a force constantly ripping my trunk.” She tells me in a tight voice.
I extend my right forearm out over the table, inviting her to take hold of it. She timidly reaches out with one of her tendrils, carefully wrapping it around my wrist. I smile and close my fist to make my muscles push on the appendage, conveying the same emotion as that of a hug despite doing the opposite.
“We still have at least two weeks together before you leave, don’t we?” I ask.
“I hope.” Celyz whispers.
“Then cheer up, we’ll say our farewells when the time comes, not a second before.” I tell her, knowing how little comfort that provides.
“We will.” Celyz agrees, reaffirming herself.