(I can't believe I got this idea for a name first - it's fabulous. For those who are wondering whether I'm gonna pick up any other story - not so likely. Sorry! This is going to be multichapter - hopefully a long multichapter, unlike Times of Day, for instance. So, I present to you, the Secondary Realms - Full House.)
SNEEZER, LORD MONDAY
Sneezer was, to put it simply, having a bad day.
He could remember all those times in the Lower House, during Mr. Monday's reign, when it was inundated in paperwork. Yet he, the personal servant of Mr. Monday, never had to do any.
Now, as he signed paper after paper, not really caring what it said or what it got him into, it was much, much worse.
Sneezer looked out onto the Atrium, and the rest of the Lower House, with it's big, grey city, beams of elevators, and the cave that led to the Coal Cellars. The New Architect had brought him back for a single purpose - to be Lord Monday, the Master of the Lower House, and currently Master of Paperwork - but lately Sneezer's once one-track mind had begun to stray. He had asked the New Architect what this was about, and he got an answer that did not please him.
The New Architect had made thinking Denizens.
Oh, they would still do their jobs. It's that they also wrote books for enjoyment, went on vacations to other parts of the House, and did not focus so dumbly on a single thing - like filling ink bottles, or cutting quills.
Sneezer sighed and put his head in his hands. Preposterous.
Strangely, something inside Sneezer reacted in that moment. He couldn't tell, of course, but a tiny, microscopic dot of Nothing had blossomed into his right eye, glimmering in the early morning sunlight.
SCAMANDROS, DR. TUESDAY
Scamandros was embarrassed.
The Grand Cavern shimmered in the hazy twilight provided by the wallcrystals - which went against everything that he had learned, considering it was a giant cave surrounded on all sides by rock and dirt - and he had yet to figure out how to make a Not-Horse.
A small village, much tinier than any of the other demesne's, had been built around the small spring of Nothing, which he and his Dawn, Noon, and Dusk used to make slower - and less pricey - things for the other Trustees.
Sometimes it was frightening, looking out past the village, with it's two streets and cozy cottages and lamps, and seeing the vast empty brown of the Grand Cavern. But off in the distance were the beautiful crystals that adorned the walls, places where he might build shimmering cities one day.
But at the moment, any thought of that was gone.
He was standing with his Dusk, a handsome man with black wings, a crop of dark brown hair, a large top hat, and a swallow-tailed black coat. He had appointed each of his Times of Day as an expert on a certain type of Nothing-Made material - Dusk was Flora and Fauna, Dawn was Weapons, Food, and Sorcery, and Noon was, well, Everything Else.
"Problem?" Dusk asked in his whispering voice. A small smile barely curled his lips upwards.
"Well, that is to say, um, yes." A variety of tattoos, many with blushing faces, danced across Scamandros' forehead. "With Not-Horses."
Dusk's smile grew a bit wider. "Come."
They walked through the sleepy town together, to the central square, where the Villas of Dawn, Noon, and Dusk were, as well as Tuesday's Fountain, the base of his operations. As the two walked towards the regular-sized fountain, they both shrunk in size, until they were only about an inch tall and could enter the spring.
Inside was a quiet workplace - Dawn sat at her table, a gobbet of water-diluted Nothing in her hands, slowly forming it into Activated Ink. Noon had taken a break from actual work and was bending a Nothing blob into a bowler hat.
Scamandros and Dusk went past the two, who acknowledged them with a greeting.
They finally came to the most magnificent of places - Tuesday's Balcony, a large, Immaterial walkway that wrapped around the perimeter of the fountain interior.
In this center was a large, vertically moving jet of Nothing, rumbling quietly. When it reached the top, it was forced into a water spell-net, diluting it and making it easier and much, much safer to work with, yet not as powerful.
Dusk reached out to the Nothing column and beckoned a gobbet, which promptly flew towards him. An exclamation mark tattoo appeared on Scamandros' chin - his Times were getting much better.
As Dusk began to explain, Scamandros tuned one half of his brain to him and one half to his problems. The other Trustees - most notably Thursday, Wednesday, and Sunday - were inundating him with requests. He had even been asked to create a 2,000 page count of Immaterial Paper within a week by Lord Monday. Impossible!
And something else was haunting him. The New Architect had confided only to him - Suzy would most likely talk too much about it - that in a few years he would call together the first New Trustee Convention - something that was scary enough to sent all the tattoos off his face.
But for now, he thought, turning to Dusk's completed Not-Horse, it's time to work.
No one noticed the water spell-nets break.
DAWN, LADY WEDNESDAY
Dawn flew above the Border Sea in her preferred form, that of a golden shark with wings. It calmed her to look on the blue-grey waters from above, always rocking back and forth.
A spray of jet-black interrupted her calm. Nothing!
She flew down, calling on the power of the Third Key. Dawn could hardly believe a spray this big could have escaped her notice; she had established a new fleet of Nothing-Searchers with stronger hulls and sails to notify her of impinging Nothing, as well as the original fleet Lady Wednesday had created so long ago.
Lady Wednesday. Dawn gulped down her tears. It was surprising, really - the entire destruction of the Old Universe had taken nought but a few years, and it had only been ten or so since The New Architect and all his Trustees said goodbye to Arthur, the mortal Heir to the House.
Dawn finally reached just above the Nothing, and changed instead to her winged Denizen form, in order to better wield the Third Key. Many fish skeletons lay scattered across the slick Nothing - evidence that the appearance was sudden, not gradual.
Dawn frowned. What was this?
It was a Denizen half of his body eaten up by Nothing.
"Return to the Void!" She sternly commanded.
The Nothing vanished, leaving a skeletal region of dead corals and fish bones. But below, she could see something black - more Nothing, welling from the bottom of the Border Sea? Nothing came from the line of storms and the walls of the House - not from the demesnes themselves.
Dawn ignored this for the moment and turned to the Denizen. She didn't know him - he wasn't someone from the Border Sea, that is. An Unwary vacationer from the Lower House, maybe?
The mystery Denizen looked at Dawn, pain in his eyes. The Nothing crawled over his skin, eating away at him at an alarming rate.
"Lady Wednesday," he croaked. "Arthur...get Arthur Penhali-"
The Nothing horrifically consumed the Denizen's lips, leaving a jawbone hanging loose as the Nothing crawled up to his terrified eyes.
All Dawn could do was take the bones of his hand in hers, and watch as the Denizen died.
Something cold slipped from his hand, something circular.
Dawn grabbed it from the cold water and lifted it to her eyes.
It was a circular portrait of Drowned Wednesday.
Dawn was so startled she almost dropped it into the water. The old Trustee's brown hair shimmered in the grey morning sunlight, and her body was thin and shimmering in a wispy blue dress. She didn't smile, yet there was a twinkle in her eyes that suggested she was thinking of her Border Sea.
Dawn stared. After the universe ended, the lost things in the ocean disappeared, and new ones had just begun to accumulate. No memories of the Old Universe remained in the waters; how could a Denizen get something that didn't exist?
Lady Wednesday, still clutching the locket, took off into the sky, flying towards Port Wednesday.
Just as she left, a burst of Nothing exploded into the water, dissolving the bones of the Denizen and clouding it with black once again.
FRED INITIAL NUMBERS GOLD, SIR THURSDAY
The tile Fred stood on was quivering.
He could feel it. This single tile had interrupted base Nithling training by grinding to a halt, stopping any tectonic strategy whatsoever.
After sorcerously digging a hole into the foundation of the tile, Fred found the problem - a slick, oily sheen of Nothing on all the strange mechanisms deep within it. He had cleared it away with a single flick of the Key, but had still felt unwary, so had posted sentries all around to remain on the tile, even when moving.
This tile was exceedingly strange in it's environs, something that Fred had thought of when the New Architect, but when he mentioned tile 12/500, the glance from the former Ray Green had silenced him.
The tile had the widest range of environs, from forests to prairie, from lakes to saltwater. But in the center was a medium-sized clearing, and on it stood a house. Not a house from the House, really - a house from the Secondary Realms, from Ray Green's - Arthur Penhaligon's - time. It recalled a single memory from all the times Fred, as a Piper's Child, was washed between the ears - that his house had not been too unlike this one. The New Architect, however, had strictly forbidden anyone to enter.
The tile's quivering grew to a low shaking, then harder, and harder, until it was trembling so much Fred called on the Key to help him. "Calm the ground," he ordered silently.
But the trembling continued, albeit not as strongly. It was the work of the New Architect, after all.
The tile then slowly began to move northward. The squeaking and grinding of it made Fred cringe- his Great Maze was usually orderly, oiled and cleaned to perfection. The Nothing sheen on the gears had eaten away at the Immaterial protections, cutting into the beautiful work of the New Architect.
He flipped out his Ephemeris, until he came to the page with eight foldouts on each side - a detailed map of the Great Maze. He found square 12/500 and tapped it with the Key. A projection appeared, larger than the rest of the tiles, slowly moving upward while other parts of the maze rearranged themselves quickly.
Suddenly the tile squeaked, and rushed forward, zooming past other squares. The others, too, flew by in a frenzy, until the powerful map created by the strong Fourth Key couldn't keep up and crumbled, disappearing into the powerful wind.
Fred had desperately stuck the Fourth Key's blade into the dirt, getting a good grip on it before checking his problems. All of his sentries had been blown away by the wind, landing if they were lucky on a less problematic tile, or being squished between two of the blocks.
Fred glanced up, trying to follow the path of the tile. He glanced at the Ephemeris. The strain on the map was so strong that the book had torn itself to pieces, shrieking and flying away in little bits.
Suddenly a tile slid into view, just two miles in front of them. It barreled toward 12/500.
Fred Initial Numbers Gold braced for impact.
ONE WHO SURVIVED THE DARKNESS, MADAM FRIDAY
Madam Friday, or Darkness as she was called by her former eyriemen, stood on the peak of the Middle House.
The breeze blew a warm, moist air into her veiled face, ruffling her wings' black feathers. The Extremely Grand Canal wound lazily below her, surrounded by Paper Pushers supervised by her Noon. Below, her extremely well-trained eyes picked up the glint of gold reflected by the Gilded Youths and the people of Letterer's Lark as they showed some top-rate gilding to her Dawn.
And just below her, between the two upper layers of the Middle House, was her former home - the eyrie of the Winged Servants of the Night.
She had been surprised when the New Architect had recreated her - and even more so when she became the ruler of the Middle House. Suddenly, everything she had protected her entire life in the Old Universe was hers.
Earlier that day Darkness had visited the Guild of Illustration and Augmentation. When she was a Winged Servant, she would often volunteer to do the rounds here, as occasionally a piece of colored paper blew away from the Illustrators, and she would pick it up, examining the beautiful parchment. How she had wished to be full of reds, blues, greens, instead of blacks!
And now she was.
The new system devised by the New Architect had been working perfectly. The Lower House now not only kept all the records, but also wrote the books, while the Middle House would illustrate, gild, and bind them. The Upper House would imbue them with sorcery, and then they were finally ready to be read. It was perfect, in Darkness's mind.
She looked back at the Scriptorium. Her Dusk was receiving all sorts of people, from the High Guildmaster of Binding, to a messenger from the Border Sea.
Darkness extended her wings, and dove down in a graceful arc towards the Flat, meaning to check up on the extensive books from the Lower House that needed to be illuminated. Her ripping, long, black hair flew past the eyrie of the Winged Servants of the Night, whistling in the wind.
Darkness didn't notice how Nothing was gushing forth from the eyrie, or how a small Denizen, much shorter than a Piper's Child, stuck a piece of colored paper into it, giggling madly.
GIAC, COUNT SATURDAY
Giac had to say it - he was extremely proud of the Upper House.
When he first arrived, sent by the New Architect, he and Suzy had looked at it with dismay. All he had to work with were four trees, a slab of stone, and three mountains.
Now the Upper House was the most delicate, beautiful demesne in the House.
After Suzy, now Lady Sunday, cast away the clouds, the emerald green ceiling got Giac to think.
Using the power of the Sixth Key, Giac extended a single root from each Drasil and brought it to the center of the Upper House, where he made it grow to epic proportions. Into these roots he carved steps, squares, and pathways, until a maze of a city extended on all four roots, covered in cobblestone and Sorcery Offices. Not to mention the odd building full of chaise lounges, of course.
Then, he had built vast, beautiful bridges from each mountaintop, soaring over the floor, where he had begun to cultivate grassy fields and prairies. In one of these bridges he now made his home, the one directly over the City of Four Roots, as Denizens called it.
He sat in his office, which had a completely glass floor, so he could look upon his creation. Standing in front of him were his Dawn, Noon, and Dusk.
Giac had gotten rid of the very idea of Sorcerous Supernumeraries, instead giving failed Sorcerers a chance to work in low-level jobs, then work their way up. He had also destroyed the Internal Auditors and the vile Bathroom Attendants, leaving the only servants left to be his Dawn's half-crazy Artful Loungers, who slept on the underside of lounge chairs and painted pictures with Nothing.
Giac stopped looking at the floor and picked up on what his Noon was saying.
"...Need a vast quantity of servants, and very soon. Artful Loungers are all very well, but we need more-"
"Are you insulting my Loungers?" asked the bell-like voice of the Dawn. "They are perfectly adequate."
"Yes, adequate to be put in an asylum," whispered Giac's Dusk slyly, his black tongue flicking like a Bibliophage's.
"Enough!" Giac sternly commanded. "If you want more servants, you'll have to contact the New Architect, which is hard enough for us Trustees."
The three Times of Day thought about this. Then Dawn piped up, "There may actually be a closer date than you think, brothers, Count Saturday."
"Oh? When?" Giac asked curiously.
"The New Trustee Convention, in three year's time," Dawn smiled, curtsying. "We could most certainly bring up the topic then."
"How did you find out about this?" Giac wondered.
"Let's say that little Denizens have big ears, especially in the Far Reaches," Dawn murmured.
"Ah." Giac was slightly depressed he hadn't known of this before his Times. No matter how tall and handsome he became, a bit of Sorcerous Supernumerary stuck to him. A Denizen, when in a sad mood, was often called a 'Count Saturday'.
"Well, I'll think about it. Checkers, anyone?"
As Dawn and Dusk began to play, and Noon sat down opposite Giac, cracking his knuckles, no one noticed a pair of scissors outside the window.
The scissors, like the stilettos of the Artful Loungers, was imbued with a small amount of Nothing, as well as a resevoir of Activated ink mounted on it. It was busily snipping the air, seemingly cutting up nothing.
But it was slicing through something, that was for sure. It was slicing elevators, telephones, lines of sorcery that held the Upper House in balance.
All the while, a steady trickle of Nothing wound lazily through the stones of Saturday's Bridge.
SUZY, LADY SUNDAY
There was nothing like the Croquet Lawn.
Random, nonsensical, gorgeous flowers exploded out of the ground here and there, winding around the delicate marble croquet loops, peaceful and tranquil.
Until a croquet ball zoomed at 90 miles per hour through it.
Suzy raised her mallet in triumph. "That's how it's done!" the Piper's Child called. Her blond hair fairly shimmered in the sunlight, contrasting with her constantly squished top hat.
"Wish Old Primey was here to see me!" crowed Lady Sunday happily. She swung the mallet, connecting with the grass, which exploded, sending a cloud of dirt over everything.
Of course she didn't mean it. Now that Dame Primus had turned into the Architect-whatchamacallit thing and destroyed everything, there was no super-tall person to boss her around, force her to do chores, or wrestle her into a pink dress.
Watching her from the sidelines was Art, sipping a lemonade, protecting his face from the dust with his hand.
"Quite the game," he called to her.
"Yeh, routine fer me, anyways!" Suzy yelled back.
As Suzy strolled over to him, balancing on the mallet, Art decided to tell her. "Suzy, if I tell you something, do you promise not to tell everyone over dinner."
Suzy spat in her palm. "You have my word," she promised.
"In three years I will call together the first New Trustee Convention, and have already prepared a worldlet outside the Great Maze for it. It will be the first time Trustees have met together since the Old Universe, and will be the first time you will see any of the Trustees besides Giac."
"I'll see Doc again, and Sneezer!" Suzy shouted, then covered her mouth. "Whoops. But Art, why're you keepin' it all secret?"
"It just feels right; the topic I'm going to bring up is a bit... different." Art blushed. "I'm not sure why I'm so worried."
Suzy laughed. "Eh, come off it! It'll be fine, you just wait."
The jovial Lady Sunday skipped off into the Incomparable Gardens, watering a few plants here and there, never noticing the black flower that sat among the rest, it's roots spreading wider than any of the Drasils'.
The New Architect noticed, though, and made no move to destroy it.
"It's begun," he sighed.
(I think that's longer than, like, all of my stories put together. Some notes: Have any of you played Rune Factory Frontier? Know Selphy? She's my idea of Suzy Turquoise Blue, except the hat is maybe brown. Also, Dr. Scamandros, though bald in the books, is going to be given long black hair pulled into a ponytail a la Thomas Jefferson in the TV series John Adams. Also, he invariably wears spectacles. The Lower/Middle/Upper House system was devised by me, with some borrowing from the actual series. Any of you surprised by my Trustee choices? Underwhelmed? Angry?)